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Doc Rivers poked his head into his son's bedroom on
Saturday night after arriving home in Florida for a quick visit
following the Boston Celtics win over the Washington Wizards.
"He popped in my room and he was like, 'Congratulations, man. Welcome to
the Red Claws,' " Jeremiah Rivers said in a telephone interview.
On Friday the Maine Red Claws, the Celtics D-League affiliate, selected
Jeremiah in the fifth round of the 2012 NBA Development League Draft. In
spite of being Doc's oldest son, there were no guarantees where the
25-year-old guard would land. He drew interest from other teams in
similar rounds, but when he was available the at Red Claws pick, the
team called his name.
"I think it's cool," said Jeremiah. "We didn't plan for it to be that
way . . . I just think it's great that my father's not too far away.
They have that fan base and that culture. I'm extremely excited about
Jeremiah is ready to get back on the court and take the next
step in his career after recovering from double ankle surgery. He
played in Serbia last season and returned to the United States for the
procedures in March and April, eyeing a return in time for Las Vegas
Summer League in July. He appeared in four games for the New York
Knicks, averaging 3.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 0.5 assists, but was
more ready to play mentally than he was physically.
"Summer League with the Knicks, I did ok," he said. "Obviously I wasn't playing
my best basketball. Unfortunately, my health was a really big concern. I
was coming off double surgeries on my left and right ankles and I
shouldn't have even been playing in summer league. But it was just a
great opportunity because unfortunately last year with the lockout, I
wasn't able to play. I was just so eager to to get out there, and I
shouldn't have been out there."
Jeremiah returned to Florida to continue rehabbing. He made his health his number one focus and stayed
positive with the support of his family, including Doc and his younger
brother Austin, a rookie on the New Orleans Hornets.
"My dad was basically like, 'Get healthy. I know it's been frustrating for
you,'" Jeremiah said. "I feel like I've been rehabbing for so long.
Unfortunately ankles are just very, very difficult, tricky procedure and
the rehab and recovery on it takes a lot of time. It's been a very
tough recovery. My dad's been saying things like, 'Man, I know you have
the talent. You're 6-(foot)-5, you're tall, you can jump, you can run
with anybody in the NBA, you have the skills. He said, 'Get healthy and
everything else will take care of itself.' "
While his ultimate goal is to earn a spot on an NBA roster, he knows it won't happen by
playing selfish basketball. Drawing from the "we, not me" approach his
father has engrained in the Celtics, Jeremiah is focused on the Red
Claws as a team rather than his individual performance.
"I think if you play to win, everything else will take care of itself
individually," he said. "I know a lot of NBDL players are trying to get
that call up and play the best that they can play, so for me, I'm not
going to go out there and worry about myself. When you play to win,
you're going to play your best basketball. I want to bring leadership,
create plays for other people, hit the open shot, play defense, do all
the things I'm good at and have developed over the year that people
haven't seen since I've been away from the game in Europe or hurt. I can
bring a lot so I'm excited."
Jeremiah will begin his career with the Red Claws when training camp opens on November 12. On that day, Doc
will be coaching against the Bulls in Chicago and Austin will be
preparing for a game against the Houston Rockets.
"That's how we want it," Jeremiah laughed. "Honestly, it's really neat. We work hard.
I'm so proud of my brother Austin and obviously my dad. It's basically a
big support system at my house. Everybody knows the time and hours that
everybody puts in for things to work and honestly I'm just blessed. I
don't know another way to put it. I'm glad to be able to go out there
and do what I love and play basketball again. Hopefully soon enough I'll
be playing against Austin in the next level and my dad, which would be
an even crazier story. Hopefully it works, and at the end of the day
that's all I can ask for."
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