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Father and son in NBA grudge

Rivers senior and junior heading for a dream of competing against each other

  • Like father, like son
    Austin Rivers, initially shrouded by his father’s success as a coach and player, started to make his own name Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News
  • Like father, like son
    Left: The Blue Devils practise at Al Wasl Club in Dubai. Centre: A fast-paced practice match. Right: The coachImage Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News
Gulf News

Dubai: The NBA has seen only two father and son match-ups in its 65-year history, but Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers and his son Austin, a freshman with collegiate side Duke University, aim to make it three.

For the record the other two were Jan and Butch Van Breda Kolff in 1976 and more recently Mike Dunleavy junior and senior in 2003.

With 19-year-old Austin having only made three appearances for the Blue Devils so far its still very early days for the youngster but both father and son interestingly dream of competing against each other in the NBA as coach and player as opposed to shooting toward the same hoop.

Legendary Doc Rivers, the 2008 NBA Championship winning coach with the Celtics, was in Dubai watching his son make his fourth appearance in an exhibition game against the UAE national side last night at Al Wasl Club, ahead of November's proposed NBA re-start.

Rivers, aged 49, told Gulf News from the sidelines: "He's [Austin] doing alright. He's played three games so far and he's playing pretty well. Offensively he's really good that's where he excels. Defensively he's getting better and I think going to college will help him improve."

Austin, initially shrouded by his father's success as a coach and player started to make his own name for himself at Winter Park High School winning back-to-back Florida 6A state championships and later named Naismith Prep Player of the Year in March.

Rivers senior added: "I hope that one day he plays [in the NBA] that would be great but I need to play against him. I mean coach a team against him. That would be fun because I know all his strengths and weaknesses.

"That's his dream too to play against one of my sides someday. I wouldn't mind him in my team but you know that would be tough because I have to go home to his mum every night."

Rivers junior said: "I've been playing okay, it's a learning curve and I'm still adapting to the system. We're not playing a lot of minutes at the moment they are trying to sub everyone to let everybody get a taste, so it's hard to get a feel for the game."

Valuable lessons

"Playing in the NBA is a dream but right now it's about getting better as a player and a person. I want to win a National Championship before I can talk about the NBA — my dad has taught me to stay humble and hungry and work hard, that's what you have to do to win and achieve your dreams — because there are a lot that have grown big headed and never lived up to the hype."

Speaking about the potential of perhaps joining his dad one day at the Celtics, Austin said: "I would love to play for any NBA team and that's always been the goal. I would never say no to anything like that but it would be more fun to go against him."

Contrary to what his father believes about Austin's strengths and weaknesses, the youngster adds: "He doesn't know. He thinks he knows but I've got more tricks up my sleeve that he doesn't know about."

A self-confessed playmaker who models himself on the likes of Derrick Rose, Dwayne Wade and Deron Williams (interestingly none of which have ever played for the Celtics) Austin is anxious to cut ties with his dad, albeit in a good way.

Austin said: "I'm very proud of my dad and the way he handles everything. You'll never see my dad get into trouble with the law or be the guy on TV who says something ridiculous. He's very humble and does things the right way and I've learnt a lot from him more importantly as a person.

"Having him at the Celtics has given me an insight as to what it's like to be an NBA player, what it takes to get there and how to handle yourself once you are there. How to act and how not to act," said Austin.

Despite the praise for his father, if he is to make it all the way to the NBA one day don't be surprised if it's not for the Celtics.