Austin Rivers Is Going To Make You Respect Him
Right here’s an Austin Rivers story you’d count on to listen to: Every time he performs Monopoly — one thing he estimates he does greater than 60 occasions every summer time with a bunch of individuals near him in matches he says get “hostile fairly shortly” — he makes certain to select the identical piece each time.
Rivers fancies himself a shooter, so he picks the cannon.
You most likely learn that and thought, “After all.” That is the status that Rivers has constructed up over his basketball enjoying profession, somebody with a type of cockiness and vanity that stems from him perpetually eager to have a inexperienced gentle as a result of, properly, he’s Austin Rivers.
For those who have been to explain an NBA participant you’d be inclined to imagine had the whole lot handed to him, you’d most likely decide Rivers. His dad, Glenn “Doc” Rivers, was an NBA All-Star as a participant and a champion as a coach, he was the No. 1 recruit within the nation in highschool, he went to Duke, and when his NBA profession appeared to hit a low level, his dad gave him a job.
All of this has led to a notion about Rivers that he’s had issue shaking. However all through his life, that notion has fueled him, and above the whole lot else, on and off the court docket, he needs to show to everybody that this notion is mistaken.
“I’ve accomplished the whole lot in my energy to be the very best participant that I might be,” Rivers says, “and I’ve labored my ass off and the individuals nonetheless someway say reckless, loopy issues typically. I want individuals would get to know me and truly do their homework on me as an individual. So in the event that they wish to decide my character and truly watch me play, then decide me. My job in the beginning is to assist my crew win.”
Rivers goes on so as to add confidently, “However I’ll make individuals respect my sport.”
At his core, Rivers is somebody who needs to carve out his personal path. Doc raised Austin with the identical mindset instilled in him throughout his childhood in Chicago: Nothing is owed to you, you must work for the whole lot, and reap the benefits of the alternatives positioned in entrance of you.
Austin was on an expiring contract on the time he was acquired by the Clippers, calling his profession in L.A. an experiment at first.
“My worth was not excessive, and (Doc) knew he might get me for lower than nothing,” Rivers says. “He was like ‘That is both gonna work out properly, or if it doesn’t,’ I had an expiring contract, anyway.”
Each Doc and Austin have been glad sufficient with this association that he received a second take care of the crew, however Rivers continues to be conscious of why individuals suppose he was re-signed by the Clippers.
“My stigma is admittedly primarily based on simply me enjoying for my dad, understanding that if I’d went someplace else, this shit can be accomplished with,” Rivers says. He insists that this doesn’t bug him, saying that he is aware of deep down he’s a tough employee who has put the whole lot he has into making it within the NBA.
He sounds real, like this actually is one thing that he’s in a position to simply shrug off. It’s believable as a result of, in spite of everything, it’s one thing he’s been coping with his complete life, one thing Austin’s adopted brother, Adam Jones, can attest to.
“Folks was like, ‘Oh, there’s Doc’s son, there’s Doc’s son,’” Jones says. “He’s like, ‘No, I’m Austin.’ … He needs to be his personal particular person and he’s labored extraordinarily exhausting to develop into his personal particular person, and he’s very assured in who he’s, due to the exhausting work he put in.”
Therion Joseph, Rivers’ former AAU coach and a member of his interior circle, has an analogous story. Rivers joined Joseph’s AAU program shortly after his father grew to become head coach of the Orlando Magic in 1999 and, clearly, being the child with the NBA participant dad meant there was usually a well-known face on the sideline at lots of his practices and video games. And as Joseph tells it, Austin completely hated it when Doc would present up.
“He by no means preferred when his dad got here to offer me recommendation, he couldn’t stand it,” Joseph mentioned. “He needed his dad to be his dad, he didn’t need him to be coach. I see coach day-after-day, I see coach break down performs, I see coach once I go to the sport, coach once I’m watching movie right here. However he simply needed dad.”
Joseph thinks this was an early try, in Rivers eyes, to craft his personal id. He didn’t need Doc Rivers to be his coach, he needed Glenn Rivers to be his dad, and he needed to be Austin Rivers, a basketball participant separate from the accomplishments and accolades of his father or anybody else.
Previous to becoming a member of the Clippers, Rivers had managed to search out his personal id fairly properly. Joseph raves about Rivers’ aggressive nature — he misplaced simply two basketball video games between third and ninth grade — and by the point he hit highschool, there have been excessive hopes for what Rivers would do earlier than he made it to varsity and, ultimately, the NBA.
Rivers selected to attend Winter Park Excessive College — the place, not like one other native faculty (Lake Highland), he was not promised a beginning spot — and Joseph says he was the chief of the crew by January of his freshman yr. He went on to develop into a consensus top-Three recruit within the nation, and Rivals had him ranked as America’s high recruit, over names like Anthony Davis and Bradley Beal.
“Clearly, he was just like the stuff of legends, once you all the time heard about him, his combine tapes, his YouTube stuff,” Duke affiliate head coach Jeff Capel recollects. “I keep in mind seeing him play within the AAU Tremendous Showcase down in Orlando. It was the primary time I had seen him reside and I noticed him have about 45 factors. Once I watched, my first thought was, ‘Wow, I see what the hype is all about.’”
Rivers in fact went on to play at Duke below Capel and legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski, the place he was a first-team All-ACC choice in his solely season on the faculty. However these near Rivers recall that, regardless of his successes in Durham, he did wrestle at occasions. Adam Jones recollects how tough it was for Rivers’ older, upperclassman teammates at Duke “to just accept freshman was the very best participant on the crew.”
And Therion Joseph recollects Rivers having to regulate to the truth that he wasn’t “the person” for the primary time in his basketball-playing profession, and the way he had to determine how one can deal with himself with coaches and teammates with out “trying like a jerk,” whether or not that meant being okay with not having all of the performs run via him for the primary time, or having to take care of a coach in Krzyzewski who was going to push him more durable than he’d ever been pushed.
“It was the primary time a coach actually received onto him, Coach Okay, moreover someone like me, like household,” Joseph says, including that he suggested Rivers to simply be quiet and hearken to what Krzyzewski needed to train him.
Whereas at Duke, Capel grew to become a little bit of mentor to Rivers (the 2 nonetheless keep a relationship, texting each few weeks and seeing each other when their schedules allow) and he recollects Rivers being wired in a different way than most school youngsters.
“He wasn’t a man that needed to hang around loads or exit or do the issues school child does,” Capel says. “He needed to be within the health club.”
Not surprisingly, there was loads of room for Austin to develop as an individual, and he needed to study that he couldn’t simply be a basketball participant.
“I’m going to be sincere with you, he was a bit egocentric, throughout highschool and his first yr at Duke,” Joseph recollects. “He simply thought the world was all about Austin. It was Austin this, Austin that. He didn’t see the rest. All he knew was basketball. He wasn’t well-rounded.”
“For those who have a look at Duke, return and have a look at Duke … you’ll see he wasn’t glad,” Joseph continues. “He was simply attempting too exhausting, attempting to be nice.”
Rivers has labored to develop into extra well-rounded, rising as a basketball participant and as an individual. On the court docket, he was anticipated to shoulder extra of a load in Los Angeles following the departure of Chris Paul and, ultimately, the season-ending damage to Patrick Beverley. He’s responded by having a profession yr on a crew that, regardless of a rocky begin, is within the hunt for a playoff spot.
“Males lie, ladies lie, numbers don’t,” Rivers instructed us. “Numbers don’t ever lie. It exhibits what I’m doing and that my crew has been profitable.”
Regardless of lacking a while as a consequence of damage, the 25-year-old Rivers is posting profession highs in scoring (15.6 per sport), assists (Three.7 per sport), and minutes (33.6 per sport). Rivers was additionally having the very best month of his profession in December earlier than happening with an damage, averaging 19.2 factors and three.9 assists in 31.Three minutes per sport whereas connecting on 45.four p.c of his area purpose makes an attempt and 43.Three p.c of his threes. His utilization charge and PER (21 p.c and 13, respectively) have by no means been greater, and at 38.four p.c from downtown, he’s connecting on the very best three-point taking pictures mark of his NBA tenure. On the opposite finish of the ground, Rivers believes he’s probably the greatest defensive guards within the NBA.
This for a crew that, a couple of months in the past, appeared prefer it was in disaster. After buying and selling Chris Paul, the Clippers got here into this yr with the expectation of driving a deeper crew powered by its frontcourt duo of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to the postseason. However the squad received struck by the damage bug, and Griffin was shipped off to Detroit, whereas Jordan’s future with the crew continues to be unsure. Because of this Rivers has wanted to be a frontrunner on and off the court docket as Lob Metropolis has been dismantled. Fortunately, having spent important time in his life round flooring generals/crew leaders like Paul, Sam Cassell, and his father, he’s discovered a factor or two. One specific phrase he remembers Paul utilizing that resonated with him: Don’t disappear.
“While you’re in there enjoying guard, you may’t disappear,” Rivers says. “You can’t get caught up in your feelings, since you’re in command of play calling, you’re in command of the tempo, you’re in command of the pace of the sport.”
Nonetheless, Rivers is aware of he has lots of rising to do. “I’m humble sufficient to know I can get a shit-ton higher,” he says.
Off the court docket, Rivers has managed to ascertain a low-key life, protecting a decent circle of associates, and final Thanksgiving he proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Britt Hotard. The 2 have every recognized for a decade and Hotard is at present pregnant with the couple’s first little one (a boy).
Hotard has watched Rivers evolve over the previous few years. When requested to share one thing revealing concerning the particular person she’s come to know and love, Hotard displays again on a time throughout his stint in New Orleans with the Hornets/Pelicans (who drafted him with the 10th decide of the primary spherical within the 2012 draft). It was across the holidays, and the pair have been sitting at residence with some downtime, so that they got here up with an thought to do one thing constructive with that point; they received of their automobile and went to Costco, buying small objects like cleaning soap, socks, bottled water, and snacks like pretzels and potato chips. After placing the objects in little Ziploc baggage with a observe in every one, the 2 went out onto the streets of New Orleans and handed out mini-care packages to town’s homeless.
Hotard says that Rivers has constantly sought methods to quietly assist individuals over the course of his life with small acts of kindness. Maybe it’s no shock then that he began a basis (The Austin Rivers Basis) to assist underprivileged kids. It’s one thing Hotard says Austin’s needed to do ever since getting into the NBA.
“Rising up, I keep in mind how necessary it was for me when, though I had a home to reside in, I had a mattress to sleep in, I had all these issues, I had associates who didn’t have that, and I noticed once they would come to my home how glad they have been and the way stress free they have been as a result of they didn’t have to fret about these issues,” Rivers says. “You simply get pleasure out of that, simply serving to individuals. I used to be like, ‘Once I develop up, or once I grow old I would like to have the ability to do these issues for teenagers, too.’”
Whereas it took a while to get off the bottom, the inspiration held its signature occasion for the second consecutive yr in December. Titled “Rivers Delivers Vacation Cheer,” Rivers was flanked by 4 Clippers teammates — Lou Williams, Danilo Gallinari, Milos Teodosic, and Jamil Wilson — at a Walmart in Torrance (CA). The muse partnered with one other group in California to assist 30 underprivileged kids have a brighter vacation season, bringing them to a Walmart, and giving every of them cash for a purchasing spree.
The occasion resonated with Rivers, particularly when coping with a pair of sisters. The older sister, in an act of generosity, spent her complete stipend on her youthful sibling, which impressed Rivers to purchase the older sister a GoPro.
“You sit there and it’s nearly like a cross between being grateful and nearly simply, I don’t even know the phrase to explain it,” Rivers says. “It’s simply that you just’re like, man, even when somebody’s having a foul day they do not know. You know what I imply? Like you don’t have any thought what another person goes via. And that’s why even on unhealthy days individuals ought to all the time be grateful.”
Rivers’ unhealthy days actually aren’t as unhealthy as they have been early on in his profession, however he nonetheless has them. He stays a lightning rod for criticism, however he takes solace in the truth that the work he places in off the court docket will present itself on the court docket. Take, as an example, on Dec. 22 of this season, when he posted a career-high 36 factors on 11-for-25 taking pictures in a 10-point win over Houston. Twenty-four hours later, went for 38 factors on 14-for-20 taking pictures in a three-point loss to Memphis.
As Jones says, that drive has all the time been there, calling Rivers “completely the toughest working particular person I do know.” He added, “There’d be occasions again in center faculty, highschool, he’s within the health club at midnight, he’s within the health club early, simply getting photographs up, engaged on his ball dealing with.”
These sorts of tales pop up everytime you speak to simply about anybody near Rivers. He’s, legitimately, somebody who takes pleasure in working exhausting. “The child is likely one of the hardest employees that I’ve ever been round,” Jeff Capel instructed us.
Nonetheless, within the eyes of many, Austin Rivers was handed a golden ticket that solely the son of an NBA participant and coach might obtain. And that notion of Rivers is unlikely to vary so long as he’s enjoying for his father. Rivers acknowledges this, saying he believes that if he performed for one more crew, the banter round him wouldn’t exist the way in which it at present does. So he retains working. It’s all he can do, actually. Rivers says that he got here into this season with a handful of objectives, amongst them: turning into a greater scorer, playmaker, and defender. This, he says, led to him anticipating extra out of himself and placing extra work in off the ground.
Whether or not this results in him serving to the Clippers make the playoffs clearly stays to be seen, however it doesn’t matter what occurs with the crew this season, Rivers is aware of what he’s and the way he received to the place he’s at proper now. He’s an individual who is essentially at peace with who he’s, regardless of no matter criticism he might proceed to face.
“If persons are gonna proceed to be tough,” Rivers says, “if individuals don’t need me to be assured in myself and imagine that I’m an excellent participant, then I’m sorry, you’re simply gonna proceed to hate me. I’m by no means gonna cease believing in myself.”
You can find The Cover, that includes Austin Rivers, under in addition to our behind the scenes video from the shoot: