Doc Rivers uses NBA’s China controversy as teaching moment with Clippers

Doc Rivers wasn’t up-to-date with the NBA’s China controversy when he arrived at the Los Angeles Clippers’ training facility on Tuesday morning.

In his defense, there was a lot to catch up on.

So that’s exactly what he did.

Rivers started reading about everything that’s happened since Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong — which set off a rapid chain of events in the hours and days that followed. He wanted to make sure he was prepared to talk to his team about it.

“I think it’s my duty to talk to them about current events,” Rivers said, via the Los Angeles Times.

Rivers joined San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich in praising NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s second response to the incident — the league’s initial response didn’t go over so well — in which he stood up for free speech and Morey’s right to exercise it, despite the consequences that follow.

“We don’t get killed for saying in what we believe in, what we get is disagreed [with],” Rivers said, via the Los Angeles Times. “We can disagree. I can disagree with everything you say, I have the right to do that and I have the right to say so and that’s good. That’s what this country is about, freedom of speech, and we should always have freedom of speech.

“But I did tell [players] this: Freedom of speech does not mean freedom of consequences. You can have freedom of speech, but there may be consequences for what you say and that’s why we get back to the thoughtfulness — think about it before you say it because there could be consequences.”

Among other things, Doc Rivers used the NBA’s controversy with China to encourage everyone within the Clippers organization to register to vote. (AP)

Encouraging his players to vote

Rivers also used the incident with the NBA and China to once again encourage everyone within the Clippers organization to vote — regardless of who they vote for.

Coincidentally, a voter registration campaign was taking place just outside of the team’s training facility on Tuesday afternoon.

“Being a black male, it’s personal for me,” Rivers said, via the Los Angeles Times. “I’m not telling anyone who to vote for. I’m telling you to go vote, and I think our young people don’t understand how hard we had to fight to have the right to vote or not vote, so we have to do better.

“Like we all complain, but then we don’t vote. So it’s very personal … I think all of our jobs are to get involved in the community. It’s a bailout when we say [players] should do it. We all should do it.”

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