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Doc Rivers, Bill Simmons Try to Stay Classy While in Verbal Joust

Sometimes ESPN columnist and Grantland.com founder Bill Simmons can be a bit of a blowhard. Lately some of his more colorful tweets have even gotten him put in ESPN’s Twitter-jail for a while. But for the most part, Simmons is a tell it like it is kind of guy, and he doesn’t pull punches–especially when it comes to his beloved Boston Celtics.

Simmons has a lifelong attachment to all the Boston and New England area teams, but the NBA and the Celtics have always been one of his true passions. So when former Celtics coach Doc Rivers decided he wanted to move on from Boston and seek employment with the Los Angeles Clippers, Simmons took exception. Not to Rivers necessarily wanting out, but in the way it was handled.

And Simmons has a point.

Rivers had time left on his contract in Boston, but seemed pretty much free to just openly roam over to the west coast and test the waters. Not many other coaches could have done this and come out smelling like roses. It was almost as if the entire situation was sanitized before it went out into public view.

As luck would have it, all parties involved happened to be in the building at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for Thursday’s NBA draft telecast. Simmons discussed the Rivers situation on-camera and essentially surmised that Rivers “quit” on the Celtics. As news of the big Celtics-Nets trade started to come together, Shelley Smith got Rivers on camera and asked him about Simmons’ comment, and the kid gloves were off.

“I would like to call him an idiot,” Rivers replied, “but I’m too classy for that.”

Simmons’ retort;  “The truth keeps changing. He’s giving different quotes about this. He did know, he didn’t know, he kind of knew. He wanted the trade to happen, he was coming back, he needed a year off. When he sticks to a story, I’ll believe the truth.”

The tension in the air was obvious, and Rece Davis–who is usually quick to contain things before they get out of hand–was absolutely speechless for a few moments. The entire set was filled with awkward moments during the exchange.

But Simmons is absolutely right. Rivers just needs to own the situation, and put any supposed incorrect reports or misquotes to bed. Just say he didn’t want to be part of a rebuilding process at this point in his career, and wanted to move on. It was obvious that even if the Clippers job didn’t work out that Rivers had no intention of returning to Boston.

The NBA draft broadcast may have not been the best place for this exchange of pleasantries, but it made what was an otherwise pedestrian draft a little more entertaining.

Michael Collins is an Atlanta sports humorist, columnist, radio host and owner of Georgia Sports Craze. He is a member of the FWAA and eats peanut butter straight from the jar. Follow on Twitter @GaSportsCraze on Facebook here or on Google here

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