Blood is thicker than water but is this true in the NBA context? Do sons of former NBA players or personalities receive special treatment when signing contracts or playing time? Doc Rivers’ son Austin Rivers responds to such allegations.
Austin Rivers responds
Warrior's commentators Bob Fitzgerald and Kelenna Azubuike were having a light moment in the game between the Golden State Warriors and the Denver Nuggets. Fitzgerald mentioned that Austin, whose father is longtime NBA coach Doc Rivers, got a contract because of his family's ties.
Fitzgerald: “He got a big contract extension when, oh wait, his dad was the coach. That seemed to work out alright.”
Azubuike: “Are you saying there was some nepotism there?”
Fitzgerald: “I’m just saying, if you’re gonna give the money, night as well give it to your kid.”
The moment was personal to those involved, and Austin responded as the protagonist in the story. The 9-year veteran claims the comments were unprofessional.
“I averaged 11ppg, 12ppg, then 16ppg of the bench for a loaded clippers team. While being a two way player... yet he called me overpaid?? Do u know how many guys in league made more than me while not doing half as much!?!? And still do now! But because my last name, it's an easy diss and cop out. For sure unprofessional.”
Rivers has been in the NBA for close to ten years now. Even if his dad is NBA champion coach Doc Rivers, it’s not automatic that he gets contract extensions after contract extensions. His longevity tells us he’s a decent player. He averaged double figures in points while playing for the Clippers. It’s true, he played for under his father and probably gotten more minutes than he should have, but he delivered.
Comparing Rivers to other NBA players
On his Spotrac page, Austin did receive the biggest deals of his career while playing in L.A. Clippers under his father. He earned $28.3 million in four seasons. Rivers did provide solid numbers off the bench with 11.1 points and 2.1 assists.
The Rivers family is the first NBA tandem where the son got to play under his father. However, they are the fourth father-son duo to face each other in an NBA game. The only other father-son duo that the son could have benefitted from is Stephen and Paul Silas.
Paul played in the NBA for 16 years and coached for 12 years. He mentored the Charlotte Hornets, New Orleans Hornets, and Charlotte Bobcats for seven years. Meanwhile, Stephen, who is now the head coach of the Houston Rockets after working for Dallas, learned the ropes as assistant coach of the Charlotte Bobcats and Charlotte Hornets from 2014 to 2018.
For sure, both Stephen and Austin had to prove they deserved to play or coach for teams handled by their fathers. It’s unfair to say their fathers influenced the front office to sign their sons. After all, if Austin and Stephen were not good enough, they would not have secured long-term deals in the first place. Doc and Paul only paved the way, but their sons worked hard to earn the contracts.