Boston’s Doc Rivers loses to son Austin, Hornets

Austin Rivers had been looking forward to this game since he was
drafted 10th overall by the New Orleans Hornets.

Doc Rivers had been dreading it almost as long.

The Hornets rookie visited Boston on Wednesday night to face his
father’s team, just the fourth father to coach against his son in
an NBA game.

”It’s something I really did not look forward to,” Doc Rivers
said before the Hornets’ 90-78 victory. ”You’re trying to win a
game and you’re trying to win a game that your son is playing in.
You raise your kid; you want them to do well. It’s strange.”

The Rivers are the fourth father-son pair to face each other in
an NBA game.

Denver Nuggets coach George Karl faced his son, Los Angeles
Lakers guard Coby Karl, in 2007-08 and again in the playoffs that
season. Mike Dunleavy Sr. was coaching the Clippers in 2003 when
they faced his son, Mike Jr., and the Golden State Warriors. In
1976, Jan van Breda Kolff played for the Nets against his father,
Butch von Breda Kolff, and the New Orleans Jazz.

”I’ll enjoy it more maybe later,” Doc Rivers said. ”Hopefully
he will have bigger days. But for me, it will be special.”

Most of the Rivers family was in Boston for the event, including
Doc’s wife and Austin’s mom, Kristen. Doc Rivers said he was the
one who had to take care of tickets for the family, ”so he had to
do nothing.”

Still, Austin Rivers was confident he knew whom his mother was
rooting for.

”Me,” he said with a mischievous smile. ”Because she loves me
more.”

Doc Rivers was an NBA star himself, mostly for the Atlanta Hawks
during a 13-year career from 1983-96. Austin Rivers, who was born
in 1992, grew up hanging around the NBA, especially since his
father became a coach in Orlando and Boston.

”I think a lot of guys or a lot of people try to hide the fact
that they’re going against a team that they know very well, or when
they go against their father, they try to pretend it’s a normal
game. It’s pretty much impossible to do that so I just try to treat
it as it is,” he said.

”I’m just going to have fun with it. This is a fun chance, you
know. I’m more excited to play against a playoff-caliber team, a
Hall of Fame team, that’s why I’m just really excited to go out
there and compete tonight, and just have fun in the game whether
things are going well or not, and hopefully we will win.”

The younger Rivers acknowledged that it might not be so fun for
his dad.

”He has to balance more than I do,” Austin Rivers said. ”I
just have to go out there and play my best and help my team win,
where as he has to go out there and try to game plan against me and
then he wants to be happy for me at the same time. So he kind of
has a double-edged sword for him, whereas for me I just go out
there and play.

”I’m sure he doesn’t really like all this, so I know he’s
waiting for this night to be over with, whereas for me, I’m waiting
for it to get started.”

The two spoke briefly during pregame warmups, and Austin Rivers
got a big cheer from the opposing crowd when he checked into the
game with 4:19 left in the first half. Doc Rivers leaned back to
say something to the assistant coaches sitting behind him and
cracked a brief smile.

Austin Rivers spent much of his first stint on the court staking
out a position on the right side, which placed him in front of the
Celtics’ bench; there was no interaction with his father’s team.
With about a minute left in first quarter, he muscled a hook shot
in for a basket, but his father had no reaction.

Austin Rivers finished with eight points in 22 minutes.

Austin Rivers, who said he has been able to beat his father
one-on-one since the eighth or ninth grade, said it was easier
because his dad wasn’t on the court.

”It’s not as crazy as it seems, `cause he’s a coach,” he said.
”I’m not playing against him, you know, he’s just coaching. It
would be one thing if he was somehow still playing.”