Rivers spent seven seasons with the Clippers, making the play-offs in six of them — major success for a once-woebegone franchise. This season’s team, with the additions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, was expected to compete for a championship.
But losing three close-out opportunities to the Nuggets cost the Clippers a chance to play the Los Angeles Lakers in the west finals, and likely played a role in Rivers not remaining as coach.
Rivers also coached the Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics, winning the NBA title with the Celtics in 2008.
His formal first name Glenn, Rivers earned the “Doc” nickname by the late college coach Rick Majerus from wearing a T-shirt of former 76ers great “Dr. J” Julius Erving T-shirt to a Marquette basketball camp. Majerus was an assistant at Marquette when Rivers played there in the early 1980s.
It’s up to Rivers to turn the All-Star tandem of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons into winners.
The 76ers were 43-30 this season and had woefully underachieved in a year when they were expected to be serious contenders in the eastern conference.
Brown was tasked with the leading the Sixers through a rebuild dubbed “The Process,” where management stripped the roster of serious NBA talent to lose games and increase their odds at better draft picks. Brown won only 47 games in his first three seasons, including a 10-72 record in 2015-16.
The philosophy paid off when Philly drafted Embiid and Simmons, who both became All-Stars and led the Sixers to two straight trips to the eastern conference semi-finals.
But Simmons missed the post-season with a knee injury and neither Embiid nor the players brought in in recent years could provide enough scoring in clutch situations against Boston.
The Sixers believed they were ready to contend for their first championship in 37 years and general manager Elton Brand spent $US180 million to re-sign Tobias Harris and nearly $US100 million to sign free agent Al Horford away from Boston.
Instead, the Sixers had only snippets of consistent success and Brown paid the price. The longtime San Antonio Spurs assistant was let go on a contract that runs through the 2021-2022 season.
Brand said after he fired Brown he would evaluate the front office and consider more changes but doesn’t plan to trade either of his two top stars.
“I’m not looking to trade Ben or Joel,” Brand said days after the season ended. “I’m looking to complement them better. They are 24 and 26 years old, respectively. You try to make that fit as long as you can. They want to be here, they want to be with our organisation and I see them here for a long, long time.”