May 11, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers reacts during the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics in game six of the 2023 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Television has always been the preferred pitstop for ousted coaches. They can stay close to the game and remain on the radar of potential future employers. In the case of Doc Rivers, it seemed to make perfect sense that he would return to TV after being let go by the Philadelphia 76ers in May.

Rivers, along with Mike Breen and Doris Burke, is a member of ESPN’s revamped lead NBA broadcast team. The trio will make their debut on Wednesday when the New York Knicks host the Boston Celtics at 7 p.m. Eastern time.

This will be Rivers’ third stint as a broadcaster but his first appearance since the 2003-04 season when he worked as an analyst for the NBA on ABC. He was a younger man then and had yet to win an NBA championship. Now, he’s a 62-year-old who has won a title with the Boston Celtics but who has also been fired from his previous two coaching jobs.

On a recent ESPN conference call, Rivers was asked why he returned to TV.

“This is something — when I was a player, I studied it,” he said. “I worked at Turner in the summertime as an intern. This is something I really enjoy doing. I love basketball, and I like being around it and I like talking about it, and I want people to enjoy it and learn it.”

In many ways, Rivers is perfect for broadcasting. Few know the league better. Rivers was a longtime guard in the NBA playing for four different teams. Rivers was also a longtime coach in the NBA working for four different organizations. Name anyone in the Association. Chances are he has played or coached with or against them.

Rivers is likable, knowledgeable, and knows how to talk basketball with anyone. But former players and coaches are often reticent to criticize. And given the fact that Rivers has many friends in the NBA, can he be counted on to offer blunt analysis?

“I’m going to be honest,” he said. “Sometimes that can be critical. But as long as it’s honest and coming from the right place, I’ve always been able to live with that. You learn that in coaching. In coaching, you’re in a leadership position, and the one thing you know in a leadership position is you’re going to say things that sometimes people don’t like.”

Rivers added: “It’s going unpopular at times, but at the end of the day, I really want people to enjoy the game. That’s what I’m in here for, to try to show the audience things that they may not see, to look at it.”

Rivers has several relationships in the league. That also means that media members will be speculating about his next move. He was linked to numerous job openings and reportedly interviewed with the Phoenix Suns.

When asked about his level of commitment in terms of how long he will be at ESPN, Rivers said that he made “no promises.”

What about his desire to return to coaching?

“Don’t know,” Rivers said. “I really don’t. Listen, this is my first time in a long time that I haven’t been in a training camp. I went to Paris this summer. I went to Ireland this summer. I went to the Vineyard this summer. I went to the Hamptons twice this summer. I played in golf tournaments in New Jersey. I’ve done a lot of things that I’ve never been able to do over the last 20 years, and yeah, I’ve enjoyed it.

“Do I miss coaching? I don’t know yet. I think let the season go on, and I’ll find that out. But this is the journey I’m on right now.”

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant, Anthony Grant, Amy Grant or Hugh Grant.