Doc Rivers Got Fined for Tampering With Kawhi Leonard Due to ‘Public Pressure’ From Lakers Fans

Omar Guerrero
3 Min Read

Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers recently presented his opinion about why his father was fined $50,000 by the league for tampering with Kawhi Leonard nearly a year ago.

Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers made a guest appearance on his son’s “Go Off” podcast a few days ago. According to the elder Rivers, he was merely being honest when he compared Leonard’s floor game and body type to those of Michael Jordan last year.

According to the younger Rivers’ theory, his dad was fined because of the Los Angeles Lakers fan base.

“You only got fined, and this is my opinion, due to the public pressure of Lakers fans,” the younger Rivers said. “Because they wanted Kawhi Leonard so bad, and I think their fan base annoyingly controls so much of the media, to the point where that became a thing.

“Lakers fans think every free agent is coming to them. They think Klay Thompson was coming there, they thought Paul George was coming there, that’s just what it is. Again, it’s a credit to how passionate they are, I say this actually as a compliment to their fan base and how passionate they are about their Lakers, but I think the pressure, anything you said that had to do with Kawhi would have been viewed as tampering or you trying to lure him in. Because this happened before free agency, when you’re allowed to say anything, right?”

Though the younger Rivers’ theory may seem credible enough to be believed, in truth, the league rightfully fined his father according to league rules. The Clippers head coach walks a fine line when talking about other players because of his position on the team.

When the elder Rivers made the comment on national television, regardless of his intentions, it was a tampering fine just waiting to happen as Leonard was still under contract with the Toronto Raptors.

“He is the most like [Michael] Jordan that we’ve seen,” Rivers said at the time during the 2019 Finals preview on ESPN. “Like, there’s a lot of great players. LeBron [James] is phenomenal. KD (Kevin Durant) is phenomenal. But not that he is Jordan or anything like that, but he is the most like him. Big hands. Post game. Can finish. Great leaper. Great defender. In-between game. If you beat him to the spot, bumps you off. Then you add his 3-point shooting.”

After the fine was handed down, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver explained that coaches and team executives simply have to refrain from answering questions regarding players under contract with other teams.

Since the elder Rivers failed to adhere to the league’s anti-tampering rule, he was given what he deserved no matter what Lakers fans say.

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Omar is a former writer for King James Gospel. The very first team he rooted for was the Showtime Lakers and his favorite player back then was James Worthy. Seeing the Purple and Gold win back-to-back championships in the '80s made him a basketball junkie for life. He has witnessed and celebrated every Lakers championship since then and is now looking forward to a new era of basketball in Tinseltown led by LeBron James.