Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

25 things to know about new Sixers head coach Doc Rivers

Rivers, 59, is the 16th head coach to try to end the team's 37-year championship drought.

Sixers head coach Doug Collins who was drafted ahead of Doc Rivers' uncle in 1973, share a moment prior to a game at the Wells Fargo Center in 2018.
Sixers head coach Doug Collins who was drafted ahead of Doc Rivers' uncle in 1973, share a moment prior to a game at the Wells Fargo Center in 2018.Read more

Taking a look at Glenn “Doc” Rivers, the most accomplished coach to come to the Sixers in more than half a century.

1. Rivers picked up his nickname “Doc” when the late, great coach Rick Majerus, then an assistant for Marquette, spotted the youngster at a summer camp wearing a Julius Erving jersey. He also played with Moses Malone in Atlanta, but missed being teammates with Mo Cheeks by one year.

2. Rivers is from Chicago and attended Proviso East High, a school with notable alumni such as BET co-founder Sheila Johnson, actor Dennis Franz and Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke.

3. Rivers played at Marquette from 1980-83, and had his jersey retired in 2004. He chose the Milwaukee school over hometown DePaul, which means he could have been on the 1981 team that was ranked No. 1 when it was upset by St. Joe’s in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Hard to see the Hawks beating the Blue Demons with Rivers on that team, but who knows.

4. Rivers hit a 35-foot buzzer-beater as a freshman to stun fifth-ranked Notre Dame. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel called the 37th greatest sports moment in Wisconsin over the last 50 years.

5. A more personal nickname is “Moonie,” which childhood friend Corey Cooper told the Chicago Tribune is derived from Rivers' dad’s nickname, “Full Moon."

6. Rivers is the nephew of former NBA player Jim Brewer, the second pick of the 1973 Draft after the Sixers selected Doug Collins.

7. Rivers has been a coach for 21 seasons for Orlando (1999-2003), Boston (2004-13) and L.A. Clippers (2013-20). He has been to the playoffs 12 of the last 13 years, won a championship with Boston in 2008, and reached the Finals in 2010 before losing to Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in seven games.

8. Rivers is also the only coach to lose three times when he’s been up 3-1 in series, including this year when the Clippers were stunned by Denver in the conference semis.

9. Five best players he’s coached: Kevin Garnett, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul, Paul Pierce, Tracy McGrady.

10. Five other All-Stars he’s coached: Grant Hill, Ray Allen, Blake Griffin, Rajon Rondo, DeAndre Jordan.

11. Doc spent 13 seasons in the NBA as a player, including the first eight with Atlanta where he was a solid point guard and an excellent defender.

12. Rivers still holds the Hawks' career assist record and had 18 dimes in an epic Game 7 loss at Boston in 1988, when Dominique Wilkins and Larry Bird put on a riveting show.

13. Rivers played in the 1988 All-Star Game, posting nine points and six assists in 16 minutes.

“It’s amazing why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back."

-- Doc Rivers, in August, referring to the police shooting of Black man Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisc.

14. Rivers entered the 1983 NBA Draft after his third season at Marquette, but returned and earned his degree in pre-law/political science in 1985.

15. Rivers had ideas on being a lobbyist after his playing days before he got the coaching bug.

16. Rivers was taken by Atlanta with the 31st pick in the 1983 draft, the 17th guard to be selected -- something he never forgot.

17. “I had some athletic ability. I could jump and I was strong," he once told the Chicago Tribune. “But I didn’t have a great amount of tools. The ones I did have I tried to work with, and hide the others as much as possible. And I played hard. I had a great determination to excel. Having been passed over in the draft, and having 16 guards picked ahead of me, if that doesn’t give you some drive, there is something wrong.”

18. Rivers won the J. Walter Kennedy Basketball Citizenship Award in 1990 and participated in the Opening Ceremonies at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games where he also assisted during the basketball events.

19. Rivers turns 59 on Oct. 13; he’s eight months older than Brett Brown, who was 52 when he took the Sixers job in 2013.

20. Rivers is the first man hired by the Sixers in more than 50 years who previously won an NBA title as a head coach. The only other coach in franchise history is Alex Hannum, who won the 1958 title with St. Louis and was in his second stint with the franchise when he led the historic 1966-67 Sixers to the championship.

21. Doc and his wife Kris have four children: Jeremiah, Callie, Austin and Spencer.

22. Austin played four seasons for his dad with the Clippers, the first father-son combo in NBA history, before Austin was traded to Washington in 2018. He now plays for the Rockets.

23. Doc and Kris have dealt with inexplicable hatred and bigotry as a result of their interracial relationship going back to their days at Marquette. Their San Antonio home was destroyed by arson in 1997. “It was so devastating,” Kris told the Boston Globe in 2006. “Everything melted. And our pets. Two dogs and three cats. All killed. They never convicted anyone for it, but we know it was racial.”

24. Rivers received high marks for the way he guided the Clippers through the 2014 scandal when then-owner Donald Sterling was caught on tape making racist statements. L.A. was in the middle of a series with Golden State, but rallied together and won the series in 7. The following season, Golden State won the first of five consecutive Western Conference titles.

25. When Majerus passed away in the middle of the 2012-13 season, Rivers attended the services despite a host of logistical challenges. “Rick had a lot to do with why I’m here [as the Celtics' coach],” Rivers said. “I’ve been with Rick since fifth grade for the most part, so I felt like I had to be there. It was important for me.”

‘We’re the ones getting shot'