CHICAGO -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers may be 20-plus years removed from his playing days at Proviso East High School in Chicago’s western suburbs, but he’s still loyal to the program.
Prior to Monday’s game against the Chicago Bulls, Rivers was asked how he felt about Proviso East being back on the rise after reaching the IHSA Class 4A state championship last season. It was the first return trip to the finals since 1992.
“What do you mean on the rise?” Rivers said in a harsh tone. “They’re always on the rise.”
Rivers was only joking, but he does really still keep close tabs on Proviso East. And the Pirates, for the most part, have been one of Illinois’ most consistently successful programs. They’ve reached 14 state tournaments, won four titles and have produced past and present NBA players like Rivers, Jim Brewer, Donnie Boyce, Sherell Ford, Michael Finley, Shannon Brown, Dee Brown, Reggie Jordan and Steven Hunter.
Plus, like in Rivers’ day, Proviso East still wears jerseys with sleeves.
“Proviso East is what it is,” Rivers said. “You know what it is. It’s a heck of a school. For basketball, I don’t know if there’s any place better in the country, not only in the state, as far as the history of it."
Rivers does still keep close tabs on Proviso East, too. He often talks with his brother Grady Rivers, who still attends games, and Boyce, the current Proviso East coach, about the team.
Boyce said their conversations are important to him and his players.
“It means a lot,” Boyce said. “He’s not only a friend, but a mentor to me. I’m always taking things from him and watching him coach. He helps pass my message to the players and show what the program is all about when he talks to them.
Boyce even one day hopes to follow Rivers’ footsteps into the NBA as a coach.
“I want to coach at the highest level,” Boyce said. “I want to attack it just as when I was a player.”