Doc Rivers learned an expensive lesson in bigging up a player from an opposing team, even though in retrospect the comments seemed harmless. During an NBA Finals preview show, the Los Angeles Clippers coach gave heaping amounts of praise to Kawhi Leonard and was hit with a $50,000 fine for the kind words.
Rivers compared Leonard to Michael Jordan while breaking down the Raptors’ matchup with the Golden State Warriors on ESPN’s NBA Finals preview show.
“He is the most like Jordan that we’ve seen,” Rivers said after Magic Johnson, the Lakers’ former president of basketball operations, talked about Leonard on Tuesday’s preview show. “Like, there’s a lot of great players. LeBron [James] is phenomenal. KD [Kevin Durant] is phenomenal. But he is the most like him.
“Big hands. Post game. Can finish. Great leaper. Great defender. In-between game. If you beat him to the spot, bumps you off. Then you add his 3-point shooting. I never get into who’s the best player. Magic is the best player, Michael Jordan is the best player, LeBron. But it’s that same group.”
Leonard will be a free agent this summer.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Rivers “crossed a bright line” when asked what the Clippers coach should do when he appears on a show that would require his analysis of other teams’ players.
Check out the video of Adam Silver speaking about fining Rivers to the Boston Globe below.