It has been a predictably difficult transition from the college game to the NBA game for rookie Austin Rivers. The Hornets rookie is shooting just 32.8 percent from the field after getting off to a hot start in the first month of the season. He’s coming off the bench for the 12-26 Hornets.
But all he had to do was look across the floor at the Celtics  bench for inspiration. Rivers was in the building when his dad’s Celtics beat the Lakers in Game 6 in 2008 to claim their 17th world championship. It had extra special meaning for him.
‘When they won versus LA. I saw the emotion on my dads face,” Austin Rivers said of Doc Rivers . “That was probably one of the happiest times I’ve ever felt for someone else. I was so proud and so happy just becaue Ive seen my father go through season where he’s only one 15 game, 20 games, and I’ve seen people come to the stands saying ‘fire Doc’’¦.you wanna talk about a tough time? You think I’m having a tough time’¦my father’s gone through stuff 100 times worse, and look where he’s at now. To have someone in my corner who has been through all that, I know if he can do it, I gotta work hard and I can do it too.’
Doc has given Austin plenty of advice over the years and now is no different.
‘Just to never let times or situations change the way you play or what you do best,” the rookie said. “I think that’s something I really need to work on is going out there and doing what I do best, and not trying to be somebody I’m not. I think when I do that I play a lot better, so that’s the main thing hes really focused with me on, lately in the past couple weeks, so that’s what I’m gonna continue to work on.
‘I talk to him just about every day, or every other day, and we have been talking the past couple. You know I haven’t really been playing well and haven’t played my best the past four or five games, so I’ve got to go out there and play my game and be confident in myself. When you go out there and try to do things you’ve never done before, ever, its not going to work for you, especially in this league. So I’ve just got to go out there and be confident and have fun and stop thinking too much. You know, if you go out there and give it your all and do what you do, and things don’t go well, that’s life, that’s basketball. But I know they will turn around, so that’s what I’ve got to do, I’ve got to go play basketball and have fun.’
Has he thought about what will happen when he first checks into game?
‘I think ill probably just check into the game,” Rivers said. “It’s not just another game. People can say that, but it’s not. I’m just going to go in there and try to play, well I’m gonna play and have fun. I know there will be free throws where I might say something to him, just like I would do with other coaches I know in the league’¦and just have fun with this man, just go iut there and compete and just play has hard as I can, because those guys in the other locker room, there’s gonna come after us, especially me probably. So I’ve got to go out there and be ready and just have fun with this.’
Other highlights from the Austin Rivers press conference before Wednesday’s game:
Will it affect him hearing Doc’s voice screaming from the side of the court: ‘A little but, because this is the same type of yell he’d use if I beat up my little brother [Spencer] or didn’t do my homework’¦so I know when he’s yelling im gonna have to look back for a second and think oh, he’s not talking to me. He actually might say something to me, who knows. I don’t know, its one of those things where I think im just gonna lose myself into the game. If this happen or he does something, Im not gonna pay attention to it. Im just gonna be focusing on what I need to do with my team, my coach and my players.’
On whom he looks up to on Celtics: ‘Well, there wasn’t really a guy that I necessarily say I lookup to, but there were guys that I would say I have the upmost respect for. Guys like KG, Paul Pierce , and when Ray was here’¦you can’t help to. Seeing rays pregame work ethic where he would come like 4 hours before every single game’¦KG’s passion, Paul Pierce’s passion, so when you get to be around that a little bit, you just get a sense of what it takes. I’ve had many talks with them from middle school to high school to now. So it’s just been helpful. Its just been a blessing that I get to be around guys like that that are hall of fame players.”