There was some hope that we would see Paul George’s Los Angeles Clippers debut on Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets, but while we still have to wait to see him in action with his new club, we were treated to a dramatic contest. It wasn’t the most well-played game anyone’s ever seen, but the Clippers battled back from a 17-point first-quarter deficit to give us an exciting final few minutes.
James Harden hit a dagger 3-pointer with just over 90 seconds to play and finished with 47 points, six rebounds and seven assists in the Rockets’ 102-93 win. As impressive as Harden was, though, it was his teammate, Austin Rivers, who stole the show.
Late in the fourth, after the Rockets had pretty much wrapped things up, his dad, Doc Rivers, started vociferously complaining to the referees. It’s still not entirely clear why he was so upset, but it seemed to have something to do with a discrepancy between how many timeouts the Clippers had left. In any case, the reason he was mad doesn’t really matter. All anyone is talking about is his son’s reaction.
Almost immediately, Austin started motioning for the referees to hit his dad with a technical foul. He kept it up for a good while, until not only did Doc get T’d up, but he got tossed from the game.
As Doc left the floor, Austin, clearly enjoying the antics, hyped up the crowd and motioned for his dad to call him later. After the game, Austin said he knew his dad was going to get ejected because he recognized the look in his eyes.
Of course, a moment like that set social media on fire, and for good reason. It was hilarious — although maybe not to everyone, judging by Rivers’ sister’s reaction.
But even if his sister didn’t approve, the whole reason it would be awesome to have your dad in the NBA is for these kinds of moments. Could you imagine Austin ever doing something like this to another coach? Of course not! But this is his dad, and you can joke around with family in ways you never would, nor should, with a stranger. And with Rivers, we got to see it play out on national TV, and it was amazing. Credit to Austin for coming up big when it mattered. This was one of the most clutch moments of his career.
Now, it’s also worth noting that Austin and Doc haven’t always had the closest relationship. Just check out this quote from a 2016 profile by Arash Markazi of ESPN:
“He doesn’t really share his life outside of basketball with me,” Austin said. “He and I don’t know each other like that. We know each other as strictly basketball. A lot of people on the outside don’t understand that because people think we have a relationship like every other father and son. We just don’t. That’s because he’s been gone my whole life, and that’s fine.”
But even as they’ve grown closer over the years, helped in large part by Austin playing for Doc on the Clippers, it’s still all business on the court. In a Washington Post profile by Candace Buckner last year, Doc said his relationship with Austin is “better,” though he added, “there’s a lot of good things to come out of it, but now you really want to beat him.”
He’ll have to wait until later this month when they play again for that, however, because there’s no question Austin won this round.