Maybe the most important aspect of [Doc’s] leadership was his use of the philosophy of Ubuntu, a South African term popularized by the iconic Nelson Mandela. Ubuntu doesn’t have one simple meaning, but it’s a word that signifies respect, unselfishness, sharing, and community. The idea is that, “In order for me to be all I can be, I need you to be all you can be – so that we can be all the best we can be.” Doc would say that if you applied Ubuntu in your house, at your job, in your community, in your county, if you apply it everywhere you go, you can impact the whole world and make it a better place.
How important was Ubuntu to the Celtics? Well, when Doc took the team to the 2008 NBA championship, that word was inscribed into their championship rings.
However, for most of the season, we were not allowed to say the word. Why? Because Doc would exclaim loudly, ‘We’re not there yet!’ In other words, we had not achieved that bond as a team. I didn’t get it. I didn’t know why we couldn’t say it when the team had already been known for Ubuntu for the last four years.
It wasn’t until we were getting close to the playoffs that he finally thought we had achieved Ubuntu. I know I had. I gave myself to the team in a way I hadn’t since I played with Miami. I was through worrying about getting my next player contract; I was an older player and I just didn’t care anymore. I just wanted to do for the team. And Doc let me do just that in a way I had never been allowed before.
Every time an athlete doesn’t let people in, or doesn’t like attention, people automatically put him in a box as whatever they perceive him as. And he doesn’t deserve to be in the box that he’s in. I don’t think people will ever really understand what they don’t know, and that’s cool with him. He doesn’t really want that. He just wants to be respected as a ballplayer.
on Rajon Rondo
I’m probably the only guy that can be a hundred percent transparent with Kevin and him respect it. I love him. He’s a brother to me. I hated him before I got here. During the lockout we went to Philippe’s and we ate in the basement and we just talked and wow. I was like, ‘I didn’t realize how much alike we are.’ Me and Kevin are just alike in so many ways.
He’s a true intellect and he knows everything. We just get along so well and I’m so honest with him and I give him a different perspective. He gave me the last little lesson that I needed about toughness and being firm and how to empower people. Kevin Garnett is a genius. He is literally a genius. He knows everything. He stays up all night researching everything. The commitment that he has to the game of basketball is ridiculous.
He’s probably the best player of this time, of this generation. If you look at the way all the bigs play, they don’t mimic Tim Duncan. They mimic Kevin Garnett. If Kevin was coached by Doc a long time ago and if Kevin played with five other All-Stars and all these great players in this great system, I’m sure he would have the same amount — see, our game is a little bit weird. The best players don’t always win, and Kevin Garnett at the end of the day is probably the … if you don’t want to call him the best of this generation, you can definitely call him the most influential just because Kobe [Bryant] was like Mike (Michael Jordan). Derrick Rose and all these guys, it was other people who came before them like that. And when Kevin came into the league, he was different from Bob McAdoo, he was different from all those players who fit that mold.
The Darius Mileses and all these young kids who come up, the Anthony Davises, all these kids are more Kevin Garnett than anybody else. They mimic Kevin Garnett more than anybody else. Kevin Garnett has motivated more players to get better than any other player in our time because of the way he approaches the game and how he talks to them. But he’s not doing it to belittle them, he’s doing it to drive himself. Kevin is awesome. I love that guy to death. I feel that way about a lot of our guys but those two guys in particular [Kevin and Rondo], I wanted to be there for them.
, on Kevin Garnett
I see the leader that he is, that he’s becoming. I see the way he treats his teammates. Our guys spend so much time at the Rondo family home. His wonderful wife cooks meals for us and the ladies, they vibe, and we’re downstairs with the fellas playing cards, talking trash, watching sports. Rondo’s wife found this place for us. Rondo and I met each other in Toronto to go see Drake along with Kevin Garnett.
Rondo is my friend. I want my son to play ball like Rondo but shoot like me. That’s my brother. It pisses me off to see the way the media treats him because he’s strong. They’re scared of strength and he’s honest. It’s okay to be strong. What’s wrong with that man being strong? He’s earned his right. He’s come from nothing, he’s come from nothing. He’s the second-best player in the league. He didn’t make the USA Team, sometimes he’s a replacement for the All-Star Game. He’s the epitome of an unselfish player. He rebounds the basketball, he affects the game in five statistical categories. He shoots a higher percentage than all the point guards and they always talk about how he can’t shoot.
Not only do I think he’s the second-best player in the NBA behind Kevin Durant, but I think he is an amazing leader. I think he doesn’t get a fair shake in the media and I wish they knew my friend the way I did.
, on Rajon Rondo
We love Doc. He takes care of us. He’s got it figured out. These young coaches who feel like they have to be Caesar on steroids, one of these dictators… it’s such a waste of time and energy. Doc takes care of us. He respects us as men. He appreciates what we do. He demands a lot out of us, though. It’s a healthy respect. He’s figured it out. He’s a flawless coach. Straight up. I can’t say that of any coach I’ve had. He’s flawless from a coaching standpoint.
Keyon Dooling, talking about Doc Rivers (via x-lorigirl
My father passed away three years ago and I haven’t cried since my father passed away until tonight. This bunch of guys, it was a like a senior year of high school. It was a memorable, lifelong friendships, a lot of great moments. This team was very unique. We love each other, we care for each other and though we aren’t champions this year, we have hearts of champions, and that will always keep us connected.