AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
Celtics coach Doc Rivers directs Rajon Rondo.Making his weekly appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI, Celtics coach Doc Rivers recapped last week's conversation with Rajon Rondo after his point guard was suspended for two games for a dust-up with Nets' center Kris Humphries.
"Rondo understands that we need him," said Rivers. "And Rondo almost said the same thing. He said, ‘Coach, I didn't go in there to have a fight. I went in there to push [Humphries] off Kevin [Garnett] and, the next thing you know, he grabs my arm and then I pushed back and it escalated. He said, ‘I never intended to fight, that’s not what I did. I was just trying to push him off Kevin.’ The worst you get is a [technical foul] out of that."
Rondo joked earlier this week that he escaped to Mexico during his suspension and Rivers said he couldn't entirely rule out the possibility.
"I have no idea [where he went], I really don’t," said Rivers. "I don’t ever check. He’s a grown man. He wasn’t in our locker room. I did say, 'Go where you want, do what you want, just keep working out and watching us play.' And he did those things."
Rondo declined to talk to the media on Monday after his first practice back; ran with the Mexico angle on Tuesday while expressing little remorse for his suspension; and answered in few words after his first game back against Minnesota on Wednesday. Rivers noted that Rondo's personality tends to shine through when he's away from the cameras.
"Rondo with his teammates, he never shuts up," said Rivers. "He’s loud, they laugh, they argue all the time -- sports arguments are what you’d call them, debates where they are laughing. He has a very good personality, then he has the personality that you see as well. He has both of those."
Read on for more nuggets, including Rivers' slightly different timeline on Avery Bradley's return, the best pregame motivators, and how the C's will alert the league if they rest players this season.
* Avery Bradley, rehabbing from double shoulder surgery, said Wednesday that he's hoping to be back on the practice floor in "one or two weeks" once cleared for contact. While Rivers has often admitted he stays out of those conversations with the training staff, the coach suggested on Thursday that Bradley is a little further out.
"I've seen him do skeleton offense, and he looks fine, he moves fine," said Rivers. "His legs are great, because they didn’t get injured. Having said that, I don’t know, I think I heard yesterday two to three weeks before he practices. I don’t know, I still think he’s a ways away."
* Discussing the coaches that gave the best pregame speeches during his career, Rivers pointed to Pat Riley and said he stood out above the rest. "We were joking this one year, he was like 78-4 [good speeches vs. bad speeches]," said Rivers. "It was unbelievable." Asked if Rick Majerus, the former Marquette assistant who passed away last week, was good at speeches, Rivers noted, " Majerus was more of a motivator in practice. Rick was the best practice coach you could possibly play under, ever. He was hard, he prepared you, he rode you, he got on you, he twisted you. He did everything you would want as a college kid to get better. And Rick did that."
* Rivers reaffirmed that he won't hesitate to rest his veteran players this season, whether that's easing their practice workload (like when he gave Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry a day off on Monday) or sitting them in regular-season games later in the year. After the NBA fined the San Antonio Spurs $250,000 for resting their stars in a national TV game against the Heat, Rivers admitted he'll first alert the league to any plans to rest guys.
"Obviously, there is a protocol and we have to follow it," said Rivers before quipping, "Or [team owner] Wyc [Grousbeck] will get fined."
Hop HERE to listen to the audio from the interview.