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Doc Rivers, Bill Belichick forged mutual admiration society in New England

06.23.13 at 9:28 pm ET
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Doc Rivers and Bill Belichick spent a lot of time comparing notes. (AP)

Doc Rivers and Bill Belichick spent a lot of time over the years comparing notes. (AP)

With the news Doc Rivers is finally set to depart Boston for the Clippers, we were reminded of the spirit of camaraderie between New England’s professional head coaches for the better part of the last decade, including the ongoing friendship between Rivers and Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

The two often spoke about each other in glowing terms, but they also compared notes when it came to the team-building process, managing talent, proper execution of a game plan and even losing a key free piece in free agency. Last December, Rivers visited with Patriots’ coaches before a Monday night game against the Texans, and both coaches talked about the experience.

“It’s great to have Doc here — I have a lot of respect for Doc and the program that the Celtics run. I think he does a tremendous job coaching his team,” Belichick said after the meeting. “I really admire the way his teams play, the way his players play. He gives great leadership to a lot of those guys. You can learn a lot from watching them.”

Belichick expanded on his relationship with Rivers.

“We talk, we exchange ideas — I’m certainly pulling for them, they’re pulling for us, so there’s a rooting interest,” Belichick said. “But beyond that, on a professional level, there’s certainly a lot that I’ve learned from watching Doc and the Celtics, the way they do a lot of things organizationally, his coaching style, some of the things he’s talked to me about, the way he’s handled players and situations, things like that. He’s talked to our team, he’s said a lot of things that really made sense, really hit home. It’s a good relationship — we’ve learned from each other.”

Asked about his experiences with Belichick, Rivers marveled at the relationship between the coach and quarterback Tom Brady.

“Brady has got to be right there [as one of the best in history]. It’s surgical watching him play. Then to have that, plus the relationship with [Belichick], I don’t know if there’s been a better great quarterback relationship with their coach ever,” Rivers said. “Bill Walsh and Joe Montana would be the only other one that comes to mind for me. That’s pretty neat. And they’re so different as people. That’s pretty cool.

“I love watching that team play,” Rivers added. “I was telling our guys that today. It’s just really awesome watching them execute, how professional they are. Every time I go to a Patriots game, I get so much out of it,” Rivers said. “I got to sit in their offensive gameplan meetings before they went out on the field. It’s just really cool. It’s a neat atmosphere. You can’t be around it enough, you really can’t.”

Rivers was amazed at the Patriots’ execution of their game plan.

“To me, their execution and how serious and how they prepare for it,” Rivers said. “Obviously, it’s different, they have one game to prepare for a week. It does make a big difference when we have five in a week, four in a week, it’s a little harder to do. Everybody knows their job and they do their job.

“It’s a neat atmosphere,” Rivers added. “Football [teams] in general [game-plan weekly] but the Patriots do it on another level. Just the execution. Listening to what they said they wanted to do on offense before the game and then watching them actually do was pretty impressive.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Doc Rivers, Tom Brady,
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