Prior to the 2013-14 NBA season, the Los Angeles Clippers made a stunning trade, sending a first-round pick to the Boston Celtics in exchange for head coach Doc Rivers.
It gave the Clippers a championship coach to lead their star-studded roster that featured Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan. On the other side of things, the Warriors were the up-and-comers, fresh off their first postseason appearance since We Believe, starting to gel around Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.
The teams met in the first round that first year, with the upstart Warriors pushing the more experienced Clippers to seven games before conceding defeat.
It felt like the first of many clashes, and while the teams developed a rivalry of sorts, they didn’t meet again in the playoffs for many years.
You know what happened. Paul was traded prior to the 2017-18 season, and Griffin a few months into the season. Jordan eventually departed, and the Clippers began to rebuild.
They met the Warriors again in the first round a year ago, five years after that first meeting. There was no Paul, no Griffin, no Jordan, but Rivers remained, the stoic face of the half-rivalry.
No more. On Monday, Rivers and the Clippers decided to part ways, following a disappointing second-round postseason exit. And on Thursday, Rivers found a new home, signing a five-year deal with the Philadelphia 76ers to try and lead Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons to the top of the East.
After a rapid courtship and negotiation, Doc Rivers has reached agreement on a deal to become the next coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 1, 2020
I’m not sure how many Warriors fans still saw the Warriors and Clippers as rivals. They both figure to be championship contenders next season — the Warriors with their core still in tact, and the Clippers having retooled with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
But Rivers was the last remaining face from that era, and it feels like we can now officially close that book.