A few weeks back, the Sixers blew a 24-point home lead to a Clippers team missing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

After the game, Austin Krell of USA Today and The Painted Lines asked Doc Rivers how much of the blame for the loss falls on coaching, and Rivers said this in response:

“I don’t know. Would you ask (Gregg Popovich) that question? No you wouldn’t, so don’t ask me that question. I’ve earned that.”

Doc was pretty much hammered for that, while folks did leave open the idea that the question itself could have been rephrased or perhaps softened, though the topic certainly was not off limits.

Tuesday morning on the Fanatic, John Kincade (no relation) asked about that exchange:


“Some questions, to me, are disrespectful, and I thought that one was… I do think, at times, we’re gonna work together, and there has to be a level of respect. I wasn’t comparing myself to Gregg Popovich. That’s, again, where you say something and people run (with it). Maybe I should have said, ‘you wouldn’t ask Rick Carlisle that question.'”

Eh, alright. It was pretty safe to assume that he felt disrespected by the question. We absolutely crushed him on the site, because Doc hasn’t been here very long and already has butted heads with the likes of Krell, Dei Lynam, Keith Pompey, and myself. That’s not exactly a murderer’s row of hardcore bulldog reporters. The local media has been pretty fair to him. He didn’t even see us in person until the tail-end of 2021 because it was all Zoom calls previously.

One thing we can all agree on is that Doc deserves a LOT of credit for what he’s done with the team this year. The Sixers are sniffing first place in the Eastern Conference despite navigating the bullshit Ben Simmons situation and some early COVID absences. He absolutely deserves commendation for that, and for turning Tyrese Maxey into a young stud. But at the same time, it’s totally fair to ask Doc questions like “do you consider taking Ben off the floor to prevent intentional fouling.” It’s fair to ask him about coaching when 24-point leads are blown. There does have to be a two-way street when it comes to respect, but Doc has been oddly combative when he feels challenged by questions that are mostly innocuous.

Lastly, let’s enter taboo territory. “We go there,” like FOX 29. I’ve heard a lot of people say that they think there’s a racial component to this. I mentioned it on 97.5 the Fanatic last week with Brodes. It’s the assertion that Doc feels disrespected as a black man, and is suggesting that a white coach like Pop would not be asked similarly-hard questions. Maybe there’s something there, or maybe not. Only Doc Rivers can say for certain if he feels like a mostly-white NBA media goes easier on white coaches and asks tougher questions of black coaches.

This is pretty heavy territory, so understand that I’m not sharing any personal opinion here, just trying to flesh out a topic that’s been discussed in the back channels of the Philly sports community. The one thing I will say is that Brett Brown did get asked a lot of hard questions over the years, namely stuff about Simmons’ development and all of the Jimmy Butler beef (remember the Portland argument?). Brett got pissed off with the media from time to time as well, but was less combative overall and didn’t fight back as much in public sessions. But I know for certain there was a lot of shit that annoyed him. I think he just did a better job of canning that and absorbing it, if that makes sense. Doc has a penchant for shutting things down on the spot.

My honest take is that I think this group of reporters has been pretty consistent from Brett to Doc, and the tone of the questions is similar. Howard Eskin will ask dickhead questions to anybody, right? He doesn’t discriminate. If Doc feels like the local media is being unfair because of some larger skin color thing, so be it, but I really do think this group of reporters would behave similarly if the guy on the podium was Doc, Brett, Pop, Doug Collins, Bob Huggins, J.B. Bickerstaff, your high school coach, or Red Auerbach.