Doc Rivers spoke for the first time Wednesday since he entered negotiations with the Los Angles Clippers and said, “It was just time” to move on from coaching the Boston Celtics, where he spent the last nine years.
“It was just time,” said Rivers to ESPNBoston.com as he boarded a flight to Los Angeles from Orlando, Fla.. “I really don’t think it would be fair to get into all of that right now. I made a decision to talk with all of the Boston media following my press conference with the Clippers [on Wednesday], and I will honor that.
“I’ll explain it to everyone then. But to say I was dying to get out of Boston, dying to leave the Celtics is just wrong. That’s not how it was. That’s not how I felt.”
Rivers was released from his Celtics contract so he could sign a three-year, $21 million deal to coach the Clippers.
“I always knew when I took the job with Boston that I would love the Celtics,” said Rivers. “I knew I would love the tradition and the players. But I had no idea how much I would fall in love with the city and the people in it. Honestly, I get emotional thinking about it. I will cherish every single moment I had in Boston.”
Rivers said throughout his years in Boston he developed close friendships with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, former Red Sox manager Terry Francona and current Bruins coach Claude Julien.
Rivers said Francona, who now manages the Cleveland Indians, was the first one to text him when he heard the news.
“He told me, ‘I don’t know, I’m not sure about how I feel about rooting for the Clippers,'” Doc said. “I told him, ‘Hey, I understand. I’ve been wearing a Cleveland Indians hat around, and I’ve been getting a lot of crap for it.'”
The Celtics received an unprotected 2015 first-round pick as compensation for Rivers.
“At this point in my life, that’s the only reason I’m coaching, to try to win titles,” Rivers said during his introduction press conference as the Clippers next head coach in L.A. Wednesday. “We have to prove we can win a series first.
“The reason I wanted this job when it was made available is because of what they had. I think they are an extremely talented team. At times last year, they were the best team. The question now is can we do it in the postseason?”