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Doc Rivers: ‘Just like we wanted Ray to stay, I know they wanted Wes to stay’

The shockwaves from the Wes Welker [1] signing in Denver extended not only beyond New England but beyond the NFL.

Just ask Doc Rivers [2]. The Celtics [3] head coach is a close friend of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick [4] and was the guest of the Patriots coach on Dec. 10 when the Patriots beat the Texans on Monday night football [5] at Gillette Stadium [6].

So, Rivers, who grew up a Bears fan, actually felt badly for Patriots fans and acknowledged as much before the Celtics hosted Toronto Wednesday night at TD Garden, just hours after Welker’s seismic signing with the Broncos [7].

‘€œSay it ain’€™t so, Wes,’€ Rivers said in opening his pre-game press availability Wednesday night.

But the most interesting part of Rivers’ reaction came later when asked if he ever talked about team building and keeping it together. Rivers compared Welker’€™s exit to that of Ray Allen [8] to the Miami Heat [9].

‘€œWe lost Ray, it feels like, the same way that they lost Wes,’€ Rivers said. ‘€œWe wanted him, we did everything we could, and somehow they go somewhere else.’€

The similarity is striking. Allen left via free agency for Boston’s chief rival and defending champion Miami Heat. Welker is now going to the Broncos and playing with Peyton Manning [10], New England’s biggest rival behind the Ravens in the AFC.

‘€œJust like we wanted Ray to stay, I know they wanted Wes to stay,’€ said Rivers. ‘€œIt just sometimes doesn’€™t work out.’€œ

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