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Rivers on D&C: Can’t change trash-talking

01.27.10 at 10:15 am ET

Doc Rivers joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to talk about trash-talking, whether the Celtics will make a trade, the craziest players and teams Rivers played on, and the Celtics’ upcoming three games with Orlando, Atlanta and the Lakers.

Did you see Paul Pierce and Rasheed Wallace in the footage at Ellis Memorial in Roxbury yesterday? It was very heartwarming. The reason we bring this up is it flies in the face of your team’s reputation as the biggest trash-talkers in the NBA.

Well, they can do that and still do that, I guess. We have a bunch of great guys and we have a bunch of insane guys when the game starts. I’ve always said there’s a lot of guys who you would love to meet on the court and who you would not like to meet off the court. That’s probably two of them.

[Sports Illustrated] made a list of the top trash-talkers and you have three of them. Are you comfortable with that?

It’s who we are and I’m not going to try to change it. It’s part of their DNA. I’m assuming the three are Rasheed Wallace, Kevin Garnett and you can go with either Paul or [Kendrick Perkins].

It was Paul. It was a player’s poll and Kevin won going away.

The thing with Kevin is, Kevin talks the whole game — to himself, to us, to his teammates and to the other team. So I don’t know who he’s talking to, and I don’t think the other team does, as well. Again, it’s funny. My first year with Kevin I realized that’s who he was. We had one game and before the game I said to the guys, “Look. We have to play the game. Respect the game. No talking.” At halftime we were awful and I went in and said, “Kevin, everybody. Go back to who you were. Play basketball.” That’s who a couple of my guys are. Do I wish they didn’t do it? Yeah. But that’s who they are. I’m not going to try and change it.

Do the other players on the other teams take offense?

I think sometimes they do and I don’t really think Kevin is a trash-talker, of the three. Kevin is a talker. He’ll do that, “Get that stuff out of here,” and I don’t even consider that trash talk anymore. He yells more at the atmosphere. “We’re gonna win. We’re playing hard.” Stuff like that. It’s not really directed at anyone. But, yes, some guys do. It’s the teams that aren’t very good and can’t handle it. The great teams don’t pay any attention to it because they do it themselves.

In baseball, we always talk about the code. Do teams take offense to Garnett’s pregame routine when he’s banging his head?

I guarantee you there are some that don’t like it and get offended by it, but do something about it. That’s Kevin’s attitude.

Glen Davis yells something that gets picked up by every microphone and you watch KG screaming the entire game and if you can read lips you can see that much of it is profane and in all the instances we’ve never heard it on camera. Is he just lucky or doe she know where to direct it?

He’s just lucky. And it’s not directed at a fan. That’s the biggest difference. As long as you’re talking to the other team or a teammate even, the league won’t do anything, but when you’re engaged with a fan that’s when you have problems.

Do you think you will make a trade?

I don’t think so. I really don’t. I’ve heard some silly talk over the last two or three days about trades that we’ve been discussing, which I wish I had I had known about. They were interesting. Obviously if we can improve our team we’re going to. But, I don’t think there’s a trade out there that we can pull off and I don’t mind if we don’t.

Do you think about life after the Big Three? Obviously people harken back to the Bird-Parish-McHale days and out of loyalty they hung onto all three and there were some down years after that because they didn’t really rebuild.

Well, there were some down years after that because of some untimely deaths. Rather than the Celtics were not preparing. We forget about Len Bias and Reggie Lewis, but if those two guys don’t pass away, they may not have been like the Bird-Parish-McHale era, but they still would have been very good.

Between now and the Feb. 18 trade deadline, do you have to talk to guys?

Every once in a while you do. For the most part, I don’t say much to guys because some of it is so outlandish. But if I do see a guy that I think has been affected or if I hear through the locker room vibe someone saying that they won’t be here, then I’ll go talk to that individual. But I don’t ever think I’ve had a team talk where I had to bring the entire team in.

Does that individual ever come to you?

Yeah that happens, as well. I’m honest. If we’ve had some talks I’ll tell them. Especially if it’s down the road. If it’s not down the road and it’s not going to happen I’ll just tell then not to worry about it. If I do think there’s a chance that we’re going to trade him, I’ll tell them that we are talking and there’s a 50-50 chance that won’t be here.

Speaking of team talks, will you tell them not to do what Greg Oden did?

Oh my gosh. I thought we had already learned from the whole phone texting thing, but I guess not. I think this whole new, and for us it’s new but for the kids it’s not, this whole generation of texting and picture phones and all this, we’re starting to find out some of the things that can happen.

If they had picture phones back in the day who would have been likely to have been the Greg Oden of his day? Besides Wilt [Chamberlain]?

He probably would have done it on purpose. That’s the difference. When I saw it, I started thinking about my teammates because that’s why what I can only think about, and the first one that came to mind was Kevin Willis. That’s Kevin right there. He would do that. And Dominique [Wilkins], maybe.

I was actually talking to Spud Webb and we were laughing about this, it’s funny, we were naming teammate after teammate. We almost named them all. I remember the first time I heard a cell phone in the locker room, it was my ninth year in the league. I played my entire career basically without cell phones.

Who was the craziest guy you ever played with?

Well, Chris Washburn, I don’t know if he was crazy, I think it was more the drugs. I don’t know if you remember Sly Williams? He was pretty wild at the time we had him so I would nominate him up there. And then the entire Knicks team that I loved playing for. I don’t know if they were crazy or tough, but when you have Anthony Mason, John Starks, Charles Oakley, Greg Anthony and Anthony Bonner on the same team, you’ve got a pretty nutty basketball team .

Is every game just as important as the next, and does that apply when you’ve got Orlando, Atlanta and the Lakers back to back to back?

It does apply, having said that, we understand that these are three great games to be able to play. Obviously, I wish we had more time between games to be able to prepare for them. After the game they do go back to normal games, but they’re fun games. Coaches look forward to them and players look forward to them as well. Once they’re over then they become one of the 82. There’s no doubt that players look forward to them.

Do you look at them and say, I wish we could play them well-rested and with more practice?

Well, the Atlanta game and the LA games, for sure. But LA will be coming off a Friday night game as well and we’ll be coming off back-to-backs. The Atlanta game is the toughest one for us because we play an 8 p.m. game in Orlando and a 7:30 game the next day in Atlanta so that will be difficult, but I think that will be difficult.

How did we leave Dennis Rodman out of that conversation?

He was a teammate of mine.

What was that like?

I loved it. I’ve got to tell you maybe in some ways [he was like] Rasheed Wallace. [Rodman] was a tremendous teammate and a tremendous player and a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Off the court he partied. I don’t know if he was crazy, but he partied all night. I really believed there were times when he had just left the bar and come straight to practice.

Just hanging with him on the plane, was that strange?

Well, he slept.

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