Doc Rivers recounted the story of how he underestimated Michael Jordan in his rookie year on his appearance on the ‘All The Smoke’ podcast.
Rivers had a long NBA career, playing for the Atlanta Hawks through his first 8 years. Drafted in 1983, Rivers plied his trade as a point guard in the NBA for 13 years before taking on a head coaching role with Orlando.
There are few elite players in league history whom Rivers doesn’t see and understand on a deep level. Michael Jordan, having met him so many times in the regular season and playoffs, sticks out especially.
Doc Rivers narrates how he underestimated Michael Jordan as a rookie
As the conversation veered inevitably to His Airness, Doc Rivers had the following things to say about him:
“Michael Jordan was just tough. Mike was ruthless.”
“Kobe approached his competitiveness. Other than that, I’ve never seen anyone more competitive. I remember his rookie year was my second year. And he got up to be the amazing star. And we played the memory map of the game. My first thought was there’s no way he can play that hard all season.
“And like, 10 years later, he was still playing the same way. I was amazed how much he gave on the defensive end and the offensive end, and his energy level at which he played like, I don’t know if there been anything like that.”
On comparisons between LeBron James and MJ, Rivers had this opinion:
“For me, Michael is the greatest player. But LeBron is gonna have the greatest career ever. And what he’s doing right now is incredible.”
Rivers has often made great insights into the greatness of LeBron James, having faced LBJ all through his NBA coaching career.