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Thursday, December 22, 2011
Austin Rivers enjoys father-son time

By Eamonn Brennan

During the past week, the reality has hit: The NBA is back.

I don't know about you, but I'm thrilled. Longtime readers will know this, but I love the NBA. I don't get into the whole college hoops vs. NBA thing; they're different entities entirely, and college hoops' unique makeup will always thrill me. But at the end of the day, they're both basketball. I love basketball. Ergo, I love them both.

Duke's Austin Rivers
Because of the NBA lockout, Duke's Austin Rivers was able to shine with his father, Celtics coach Doc Rivers, in attendance.
In other words, the end of the interminable NBA lockout is undeniably a good thing. My fantasy team is drafted. The Christmas day games are going to be righteous. The Bulls are back for another title chase. I have no complaints. I'm stoked.

Austin Rivers may not share my excitement. Thanks to the lockout, the Duke star got to experience something he'd grown used to doing without -- the presence of his father in the stands at his games. Doc Rivers' life as an NBA player and coach has long prevented him from attending all of his children's games, but because the lockout kept Rivers away from his team for the first few months of the college hoops season, the Celtics coach was able to see his talented freshman son play at Madison Square Garden, at the Maui Invitational, at Cameron Indoor Stadium and at Value City Arena (where Rivers and Duke were torched by Ohio State; maybe that one isn't such a fond memory).

In any case, the NBA is back. That means Doc Rivers is back, too, back to preparing his aging Celtics team for what might be their last run at an NBA title. The days of Doc Rivers' easy access to college hoops games are, for the moment, over. But the two enjoyed it while it lasted, as they told the Durham Herald-Sun:
“It’s been amazing,” Austin Rivers said. “It’s something that’s never actually happened in my life. So this is new to me as a 19-year-old (because) it’s never happened. He’s always been able to come to maybe one to three games, and it’s not because he doesn’t want to, it’s because he can’t.”

[...] “It’s been awesome,” Doc Rivers said. “Obviously you don’t wish a lockout but it’s really paid off and worked out well for me to be able to watch him begin his career at Duke. I could never imagine that I would be able to go to this many games in a row. It’s been good.”

Austin Rivers said seeing his dad at every game was unusual. “For him to be in the stands and actually be able to talk to me after games is a little weird,” Austin Rivers said. “I’ve never actually dealt with that very much. It was nice to have my dad there.”

It's an interesting little window into an unusual family dynamic. You can see that Doc's frequent presence has meant a lot to both father and son. Of course, the father's visits won't end entirely; he and his wife have often absorbed the cost of chartered jets in order to get to one of their children's games ever since the eldest Rivers, Callie, began her volleyball career at Florida. (Austin's older brother Jeremiah played college hoops at Georgetown and Indiana.)

The good news: If Austin Rivers continues to progress in his development, there's a good chance he'll be joining his dad in the NBA sometime soon. That may make for a few awkward scouting sessions, but at least the schedules won't be quite so difficult to manage.