Austin Rivers looks to step out of his father’s shadow
Posted: January 21, 2011, 5:52 p.m. CT
By PAUL IMIG
For most high school basketball players, having an opportunity to compete against NBA stars like Ray Allen and Paul Pierce would be the experience of a lifetime. That is not the case for Austin Rivers.
Austin, who is the son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, has been practicing alongside players from his father’s teams for several years.
“Austin’s a little different,” Doc said. “Playing against Paul and Ray, none of that impresses him. He just looks at it as, ‘How can I score on these guys?’ He didn’t look at it like a normal high school kid, which is probably good for Austin.”
All of the time spent in the gym has already begun to pay off for Austin. He is the country’s top-ranked high school senior according to reputable scouting services and has had many of his games featured on national television.
But when your father is a former NBA all-star and has a championship ring as a head coach, those are some pretty big shoes to fill.
“I tell him all the time, that’s just high school. You haven’t done anything yet,” Doc said.
That message made an imprint with Austin, who decided to stay home in Orlando and play in AAU tournaments during the 2008 NBA Finals when his father’s Celtics team was battling the Los Angeles Lakers. Austin didn’t have a chance to be there in-person until Game 7 when Boston to win the title.
“He doesn’t want to be Doc Rivers’ son. He wants me to be Austin Rivers’ father,” Doc said. “As a player, I had my day and I’m doing OK as a coach. For him, he has to do his own thing.”
Doc said he doesn’t get too involved in Austin’s day-to-day basketball life. He believes his job as a parent, along with his wife Kristen, is to make sure that Austin gets his homework done and let him know that he’s loved by his family. He leaves much of the basketball to Winter Park High School head coach, David Bailey.
It’s easy for Doc to rest assured that Austin will be just fine on the basketball court, especially when players like Kevin Garnett are vouching for him.
“The kid has to have the fire in him,” Doc said. “Some of our guys say that about Austin. Garnett has said for years that he could see Austin had the eye. I knew early, early on that Austin loved playing.”
Austin recently committed to playing college basketball for Duke under head coach Mike Krzyzewski after also considering Florida, North Carolina and Kansas.
The advice that Doc gave his son during that recruiting process was fairly simple.
“Be patient, number one. It will come to you,” he said. “But look at how you’re going to fit in, the system that the schools run. Those four schools he considered, those were all great fits for him.”
Before making his way to Duke this fall, Austin will play his first game in the city where his father began to make his mark as a basketball player: Milwaukee.
Doc played for Marquette University from 1980 to 1983 before being drafted in the second round of the ’83 NBA Draft.
In 2004, when Marquette retired Doc’s No. 31 jersey, 11-year-old Austin was in attendance with his family.
Now, nearly seven years later, Austin and his Winter Park teammates are one of the eight teams competing in the first-ever Brandon Jennings Invitational.
At first, Doc thought it was possible that his success in basketball may have made it more difficult on his children as players when they reached this age. But he said it only seemed to motivate Austin more.
“It can add more pressure, for him and all of our kids,” Doc said. “But at the end of the day, Austin always says, ‘I’ll show you. Let’s go out and play and let me prove it.'”