Courtside view: Rivers
returns to hometown
NBA Celtics head coach Glen ‘Doc’ Rivers’ high school jersey
retirement and parade draws hundreds of onlookers.
By L. NICOLE TROTTIE
August 21, 2008
Hundreds of fans, friends, former teammates and alumns cheered
from the side lines to welcome home the boy next door turned NBA
On Saturday, August 16th, Celtics head coach Glenn ‘Doc’ Rivers got
a special recognition from his high school as they held in his honor a
parade culminating with a jersey retirement ceremony in the Proviso
East Field House where he earned All American status as a senior.
The celebration commemorates the 1980 Proviso East graduate who
starred in basketball, leading his team, the Boston Celtics, to its first
NBA title championship in 22 years.
The No. 25 Proviso East High School Pirates basketball jersey,
formerly worn by Glenn will grace the Field House with other notables
such as Jim Brewer and Mike Finley. The original jersey, which has
long since vanished, was replicated and placed on display with
pictures of Doc from the Celtics winning game.
“I always wanted the No. 52,” recalled Doc as he looked at the jersey,
“but that was Jim Brewers number… I wanted Jim Brewers number,
because I thought he was great, and they wouldn’t let me have it.
Glenn, the nephew of Brewer, decided to reverse Brewer’s numbers
and settled on the jersey No. 25.
After graduating from Proviso East, Glenn played basketball for
Marquette University. He earned his nickname ‘Doc’ from former
Marquette coach Rick Majerus while wearing a “Dr. J” t-shirt to a
summer basketball camp.
Glenn left the college scene for the NBA after three years and earning
a political science degree from Marquette in 1985. Equally important
to the game was Glenn’s dedication to education. After earning his
degree, he was honored by the Pro Basketball Writers with the 1990 J.
Walter Kennedy Basketball Citizenship Award and named the male
Coach-of-the-Year at the Rainbow Sports Awards, which reflects not
only his talent in basketball, but also his grace, dignity and humanity.
Rivers’ success began with his father’s lessons
His winning characteristics were inherited from his father Grady Rivers
Sr. according to Glenn. “He told me, “Be consistent… people must
know what to expect from you.”
It was a constant refrain Glenn lived by while growing up at home.
Grady Rivers Sr. was a police officer as well as his sons’ baseball
coach. He hated missing practice and had strict rules about
attendance explained Rivers. At the basketball games, Grady Rivers
Sr. sat in the front row of the first bleachers of the Proviso East Field
“He’d be in full (police) uniform just in case he got an emergency call
on his radio and had to leave,” Glen said of his father as he pointed to
his fathers seat. “He looked intimidating in the uniform… and if the
referee made a bad call, my dad would look at him and point to his
gun.” he laughed.
As Boston’s dream season unfolded, Glenn privately struggled to
balance the jubilation of his life long pursuit with the personal
devastation and ache of losing the person who helped catapult him to
success. Grady Rivers Sr. passed suddenly after an illness in
November 2007 at age 76, one
game into the Celtics long and memorable season.
On Sunday at Staples Center — Father’s Day — Glenn was one
victory away from his first championship in 22 years as an NBA player
or coach. The Lakers won to send the best-of-seven series back to
Boston, Game 6 was played Tuesday, on the elder Rivers’ 77th
birthday and the Celtics clinched a sensational memorable victory for
Glenn and his father.
A time to reflect
“It’s been a joy to watch the way things have worked out for him,” said
Brewer, who played on the 1969 Proviso East state championship
team. “I was proud of him, but I’ve been proud for a long time.
Proviso East athletic director Andrew Johnson coached Rivers in the
7th and 8th grades at Garfield Elementary School in Maywood.
“Every time I see him I tell him how proud we all are of the kind of man
he has become,” Johnson said.
“This was special,” said Glenn Rivers about the hometown welcome
with his mother Bettye and brother Grady Rivers Jr. by his side. “When
you win something, you realize it’s not just for your family. It’s for all the
people you’ve ever had contact with. This means a lot to those people
and you can’t disappoint them. It’s very rare to be able to do
something like this.”
Glenn “Doc” Rivers waves to onlookers in a parade to Proviso East
High School where his Pirate No. 25 jersey was retired. A
ceremony was held in the field house Aug. 16 for the alum and
head coach of the NBA champion Boston Celtics.
Photos by L.N. Trottie.