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Austin Rivers on Daryl Morey’s Sixers: ‘They did my pops dirty, bro’

The former guard unleashes on Daryl Morey for firing Glenn Rivers. You gotta respect the familial loyalty even if it’s a silly notion.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Clippers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Rivers, son of Sixers’ former head coach Doc Rivers, made news on Thursday when the former NBA combo guard made comments about the way Philadelphia and the future Hall of Fame coach turned ESPN broadcaster parted ways last summer.

Daryl Morey fired Glenn (there’s only one Doc in this town) “Doc” Rivers after three disappointing playoff seasons (what else is new) and tapped 2019 title winner, Nick Nurse, as successor.

Rivers’ son, a former Clipper, Nugget, Rocket, Hornet, Pelican, Wizard, Knick and Timberwolf, appeared on ESPN’s First Take and defended his old man, taking Morey to task by name.

“I’m not gonna say anything positive about Philly, man. They did my pops dirty, bro. I got nothing to say about them. It is personal. Family over everything, bro. Family first, man. Come on Daryl [Morey]. I’m talking to you,” Rivers said.

Austin was speaking out on ESPN, the same network that now employs his father as a broadcaster. So the father-son duo now each has a powerful platform to vent.

But does Austin Rivers have a point?

I mean, Rivers took a 2021 team to a No. 1 seed and made the second round of the playoffs every year despite his lone superstar, Joel Embiid, suffering a partially torn lateral meniscus in 2021, a torn thumb, pinkie, broken eye socket and concussion in 2022, and then a sprained LCL in 2023. So who knows how far this team could have gone with a healthy superstar MVP?

To be fair, Doc would probably have at least one Conference Finals on his Philadelphia resume had Embiid simply avoided any one of those injuries.

On the other hand, the fact of the matter is that team Governors Josh Harris, David Blitzer, plus acting GM Elton Brand, decided to make the 2012 NBA Finals-winning coach one of the highest-paid coaches in the entire NBA ($40M for five years back in the summer of 2020) following his tumultuous ousting from Los Angeles. I guess they didn’t do their homework, did they?

Clippers’ governor Steve Ballmer, the richest governor in the NBA by far no longer wanted to pay to keep Doc around a few years ago, and thus made the (super wise) decision to promote Doc’s Assistant, championship-winning Tyronn Lue, Doc’s successor.

Philadelphia, who had also narrowed down their search at the time to former two-time Coach of the Year Mike D’Antoni and Lue, aborted their (super wise) plans and (inexplicably) made the senior Rivers one of the top-paid coaches in the NBA as soon as he was fired, by Ballmer in L.A. (lol). All of that, despite Doc’s having just added to his record of coaching the most blown 3-1 series playoff leads in NBA history; Josh Harris, who now also owns the most shares of the Washington Commanders, hired Rivers despite his hilariously brutal playoff track record in elimination games (Glenn Rivers is now 17-33 in closeout games, and that 33rd L was in Game 6 in Philly vs. Boston when his team scored a pathetic 86 points).

Not everything is Doc’s fault, of course. Nonetheless, the fact of the matter is that keeping Doc as long as the Sixers did is a massive stain on the legacy of folks like Harris (who ran basketball operations between Bryan Colangelo’s departure and Morey’s hiring).

Teams simply cannot go to war with a coach who isn’t equipped to compete with the Erik Spoelstra’s in the modern NBA smack dab in Joel Embiid’s prime and expect to come out on top. And Joel should feel a certain way about it, even if he enjoyed those MVP races that Doc may have helped him compete for.

And whatever say or involvement Morey had or didn’t have in keeping Doc as long as he did (Doc was hired before Morey and reportedly got the chance to sign off on his own new boss, Morey’s hiring, as reported by Yaron Weitzman of FoxSports) is a low-key major stain on Morey’s legacy by association. Yeah, I said it. Daryl either kept Rivers way too long or signed himself into a #collaborative situation where he couldn’t hire or fire his coach for three years of Embiid’s prime. I’m not positive which possibility is worse. They’re not doomed, but they’ve certainly played things poorly as an organization since 2017 given all of the assets (and stars like Jimmy) they once had.

Players like Chris Paul, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and now Embiid can all only wonder how things might have played out with a coach who was known for making playoff adjustments and establishing a culture of accountability when things went awry, instead of being wildly defensive or blaming others (like Doc so often has) to save his ass.

Those were Doc’s biggest weaknesses as a playoff coach and one of the biggest reasons why he didn’t win another title in L.A. or Philly.

Like dude…Rivers is ***still owed $16M from Philadelphia*** despite having signed a new deal with ESPN to broadcast! If that’s “doing someone dirty,” I can only hope a boss of mine treats me the same way one day.

Rivers is now making millions and millions and millions of dollars from Harris, while still getting to also earn a pay check from ABC and probably go golfing whenever he likes! Where’s the “done dirty” in all that?

So all in all, a coach whose players were seemingly content to see him go in both Los Angeles and Philly, a coach who PHLY Sports Kyle Neubeck once wrote was AS RESPONSIBLE AS BEN SIMMONS was for the team’s playoff collapse to the Hawks in 2021, a coach whose sickening history of playoff collapses seems to have led to his leaving Joel in during a closeout first-round game — while up 29 points with four minutes and change to go!!! — exposing Joel to what the team has half-heartedly spun as a “freak accident” when Joel took an eye-socket smashing elbow from Pascal Siakam deep, deep into garbage time, a coach who stubbornly, agonizingly played washed veteran bigs over enticing young prospects by matter or principle then derided intelligent reporters who wondered why he was doing it, and a coach whose perennial-telegraphically vanilla offenses were simply too easy for smart teams (coached by a Nate McMillan, Erik Spoelstra and Joe Mazzula) to limit, was given ***two more YEARS*** than he deserved! So how exactly did they do him dirty? I’m losing it (lol).

I’d be eternally grateful and try to take everyone out for steak dinners as a thanks — using all the money they’re still paying me to foot the friggin’ bill — if I was in that spot.

So one more time with feeling: did the Sixers do Doc dirty by firing Doc and tapping Nick Nurse? Lol, of course not.

BUT if I was his son, you’re gosh darn right I’d be singing the same tune Austin is singing. Family before everything. If my pops was canned I can only hope I’d be as loyal as Austin and defend him from any and all criticism.

Major props to Austin for having the temerity to even imply the Sixers weren’t sensationally, magnanimously generous to Doc in both money and years despite the performance, during a generational talent’s precious and fleeting prime, despite his post-2012 track record.

Points for Austin Rivers, I cannot help but respect his familial loyalty. Now that’s one war-time consigliere son.

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