Doc Rivers has become one of the most experienced coaches in the NBA, but after his latest spell in Philadelphia he decided to make his way back to becoming a TV analyst. The first time he was ever hired to train a team was the Orlando Magic back in 1999, and it took him nearly 25 years to take a break from it and resume his career in broadcast.
This is the context behind the veteran coach’s decision to begin his second stint with ESPN as a basketball expert, as his future as a coach will be put on hold for some time. A network executive recently told the press that Rivers will be with them for quite some time.
“Doc will be a part of our NBA coverage for several years. I can assure you of that,” guaranteed David Roberts, who serves as ESPN’s Head of Event and Studio Production. “There’s always a chance that someone will reach out and say, ‘Hey, Doc would be a great coach.’ So, we’ll deal with that moment if it happens.”
Austin Rivers is set to join ESPN as an analyst and will call at least one NBA game with his dad, Doc Rivers this season.
Father son duo 🎤🔥 pic.twitter.com/DKeLlT95A2
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) October 23, 2023
When addressing his wishes to return to the league’s sidelines, he said this is something he cannot know at this point. “Do I miss coaching?” he asked himself. “Let the season go on, and I’ll find that out. But this is the journey I’m on right now.”
However, the 62-year-old admitted that he still has the desire to compete for another NBA title in the future. “Sometimes that can be critical. But as long as it’s honest and coming from the right place, I’ve always been able to live with that,” Rivers said. “It’s going to be unpopular at times, but at the end of the day, I want people to enjoy the game.”
As for his former team, Rivers explained why he believes Philly still has what it takes to contend for this season’s championship despite all the pressure to succeed inside the franchise.
“I think Joel (Embiid) is pretty much used to beginning-of-the-year turmoil. He can kind of tone that out and almost use it as fuel,” he shared. “At some point, he needs to be healthy, and then he needs to perform in the playoffs. That’s going to be the key. If Joel plays well, the Sixers are as big of a threat as anyone else because when he’s dominant, there’s nobody in the league that can stop him.”
Rivers recognized feeling some pressure of re-joining ESPN’s top team of analysts and replacing Jeff Van Gundy
ESPN had to fire two heavy-weight analysts during the summer to make room for Rivers, who acknowledged feeling some pressure of having to fill in Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson’s shoes.
The network has been enduring an economic revolution ever since the rise streaming platforms, resulting in reductions of on-air talent. For now, Doc will be teaming up with Mike Breen and Doris Burke on the ESPN’s top NBA broadcasting crew.
“It’s almost like coming in to coach a team that has a chance to win the title. I loved listening to Mark and Jeff,” he expressed. “We just want to be what we are and let that go wherever it goes.”
As the NBA campaign just started this week, Burke admitted that they’ll follow Breen’s lead as he’s the most-experienced analyst.
“I think we’ll follow Mike’s lead. He is the driving force behind the telecast,” she stated. “Doc brings an honesty to what he’s telling you. And I think it’s probably helpful that he’s done this in the past. I am looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”