Clippers’ Austin Rivers explains his heartbreaking relationship with Doc Rivers

These are depressing times for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, both of whom will miss the remainder of the playoffs due to injury, emotions ran high prior to Wednesday night’s Game 5 against the Portland Trail Blazers. In fact, Clippers coach Doc Rivers was brought to tears in his pregame press conference, as a question about perseverance and support in trying times reminded Rivers of his late mother.

After the game, Clippers backup point guard Austin Rivers — who you probably also know as Doc’s son — was asked about his coach’s emotional breakdown. Instead of offering insight into Doc’s emotions, however, Austin explained the true nature of the relationship with his dad.

Via ESPN.com:

“She was his rock,” Austin Rivers said. “My father’s a very private person. I mean a very private person. His life outside of basketball, he doesn’t really share it with anybody.” […]

“He doesn’t really share his life outside of basketball with me,” Austin said. “He and I don’t know each other like that. We know each other as strictly basketball. A lot of people on the outside don’t understand that because people think we have a relationship like every other father and son. We just don’t. That’s because he’s been gone my whole life, and that’s fine.

“It’s worked out for the both of us. But the one person he could always really be with was his mom. That’s the toughest thing I’ve ever seen him go through; more than the Sterling stuff and even when his dad passed away. His mom was everything to him. I’ve never seen him like that.”

Ouch. For full effect, play "Cat’s in the Cradle" while reading the comments:

The quote is as revealing as it is sad. The younger Rivers has often been singled out as the NBA’s most recognized symbol of nepotism ever since he joined the Clippers in January 2015. Yet based on Austin’s comments, it seems rather unlikely that Doc is letting his personal affection for his son spill over into his basketball decision-making.

Even back in 2015, when Rivers joined his father in Los Angeles, his mother reportedly expressed reservations about the pairing, letting Doc know that there he would hear about it if the two Rivers men butted heads in a professional setting (via LA Times):

When Austin Rivers heard he was coming to the Clippers, the first thing he did was call his mother, Kristen.

“She was a wreck the first night,” he said.

While Austin clearly respects his father as a coach and seems genuinely okay with the way things shaked out, it’s difficult to read his comments without a sense of melancholy. We feel for Doc for his loss, and we feel for Austin for … well, everything, to be honest.