Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers kept it classy when issuing a response to recent comments made by Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George, in which he criticized the job Rivers did with the Clippers last season. The Clippers, who many expected to compete for a championship last season, were eliminated in the Western Conference semifinals by the Denver Nuggets after taking a 3-1 lead in the series.
“Hey, listen, I enjoyed coaching him,” Rivers said of George, via The Philadelphia Inquirer. “So not a lot to say there. Ty Lue was sitting right next to me. So he better hope it’s not adjustments. It ain’t going to be much different… Listen, we lost the game, and I think everybody needs to take ownership. [Me] obviously. We can always do better. Players can play better. So as far as I’m concerned, I’ll leave it there.”
George found fault with the way that Rivers used him offensively, and he also criticized Rivers lack of adjustments over the course of the series against the Nuggets.
“The way I was being used, I felt Doc was trying to play me as like a Ray Allen or like a JJ Redick, all pin-downs. I can do it, but that ain’t my game,” George said. “I need some flow, I need some mixes of pick-and-rolls, I need some post-ups, just different touches, you know what I mean? That last season was just hard overall.
“We went up 3-1. We felt like, we gonna win the next one. We lost. We like, ‘Cool, we up 3-2, we gonna win the next one.’ We lost. But during that whole process, we never worked on adjustments,” George added. “We never worked on what to do differently. We were just literally having the same s— happen over and over again. It started to play a trick on you, like, man what’s going on? We talking amongst each other, the conversations like, ‘We gonna be alright.’ The conversations should have been like, ‘Nah, we need to change this. We need to switch this up.’
“At the end of the day I don’t think we deserved it. We wasn’t prepared enough going into it — just us making adjustments standpoint. We wasn’t prepared. We didn’t put the work into it. It was kind of just like, ‘Yo, we got PG, we got Kawhi, we got [Lou Williams], [Montrezl Harrell]. We gonna be straight. We gonna figure it out.'”
The Clippers absolutely failed to live up to expectations last season, and George is obviously entitled to his opinion. However, it seems strange to basically throw your coach under the bus, especially since George wasn’t especially good in the postseason. Former NBA player Kendrick Perkins, who played for Rivers as a member of the Boston Celtics, went as far as to call George’s comments cowardly.
“It was a coward move by Paul George, by blaming Doc Rivers for his lack of productivity, and for not being accountable for him not showing up on the basketball court,” Perkins said. “It was a cowardly move in my opinion and he should have held himself accountable and not thrown Doc under the bus for him not performing the way he should have performed.”
Considering the fact that George has a new coach in L.A. in Ty Lue, and Rivers has moved on to Philadelphia, George’s comments came off as unnecessary, and it clearly doesn’t seem like Rivers lost much sleep over them.