It is always amazing to me how the most difficult of times bring forth the greatest of opportunities to lead. Great leaders embrace those moments and make life-altering decisions. Great leaders also know the extent of their team can often extend beyond their immediate group. Such was the case with Doc Rivers and the entire Los Angeles Clipper organization -- not just coaches and players.
Here are some excerpts from an article written by Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:
Doc Rivers spent the morning before his first Game 7 with the Clippers meeting with marketing, finance and ticketing instead of guards, forwards and centers.
The coach addressed offensive statements rather than offensive execution.
He spoke in a conference room as opposed to a practice court.
For about an hour Friday, a decisive game in a first-round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors was nudged aside in favor of a more formidable adversary.
Derogatory statements about blacks attributed to team owner Donald Sterling continued to seep into every corner of the franchise, three days after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had banned Sterling for life and instructed other owners to oust the 80-year-old from the league.
Staffers who worked out of the Clippers' Staples Center offices had seen Rivers and his players express outrage over their owner's remarks. But who spoke for them? And did anyone care that they had been the ones primarily handling the public backlash, fielding calls and emails from irate fans who branded them sellouts, racists and Uncle Toms, not to mention a slew of unprintable descriptors?
"Employees felt like they did not have a voice," said Raymond Ortegaso, the team's director of human resources, "and were being attached to the comments that were being made by Sterling."
What an amazing statement for Doc Rivers to find for his organization on the eve of a play off game 7! Here is more from the LA Times' story:
And so at 10 a.m., after making the drive from his office in Playa Vista to downtown L.A., Rivers stood before a group of about 70 staffers inside Staples Center and delivered a simple but meaningful message: hang in there.
"Ticket people, marketing people, they're sitting there crying, and I felt so bad for them," Rivers said. "I was thinking, my gosh, we've been in this thing and as coaches you forget that these are the people that are on the front line and they work for the organization too and you just felt so bad for them."
Baker said a few community groups had backed out of their relationships with the Clippers as a result of Sterling's comments, with some remaining estranged even after the owner was removed from day-to-day operations of the franchise.
"It meant a lot to have Doc come down here and say, 'I'm sorry you guys are hurting,'" said broadcast manager Jessica Bojorquez.
Said Baker: "It made me feel a lot better knowing someone of his stature cared about us."
Rivers also cared about beating the Warriors, though film study suddenly didn't seem as important as a lesson in sociology.
"You're sitting there and you're thinking, you know, before Game 7 I should be sitting in the office," Rivers said. "But what I did [Friday] for me was far more important than this stuff because they need it, they really do. Like, they need it even more than our players right now. They need somebody."
Thanks to Rivers, they have their man.
You can read the entire story here.