You’ve mentioned you are in favor of utilizing a system, but that you aren’t particularly married to any one system and that it’s determined by the talent on hand. Is that accurate?
DR: I think you have to have a system, I believe it helps. I don’t think your star players need a system but I think your role players and second-team players need it. I just think it helps eliminate a player’s mental load, especially in the playoffs, because they can function. They have a blanket to fall back into. They can function in the system, rather than the pressure of them creating a play. They can lean on the system you’re running, and then the system runs itself.
I think that’s important for the team, not so much for the individuals, especially your star players, but for the role players and second unit.
What sort of system do you envision for the Clippers?
DR: I think we’ll have a far more up-tempo team here than I did in Boston. Because of the personnel. We’ve added shooting, we’ve added athleticism, and we have a great point guard in Chris Paul.
But the great thing about our team is we can play in the half court because of our shooting and our bigs. But I think we’re unguardable in the open court. And I think we have to play at a better pace this year and I think the key to that pace is Chris Paul pushing it and throwing it ahead, and then our two bigs running the floor.
But if you’re going to be that, you can’t be that half the time. If you’re going to be a running team you have to run it all the time and that’s what we have to be.
You have a unique perspective in that you spent time here in the early 1990’s as a player and now you return as a coach more than 20 years later. How has the franchise changed since you were here?
DR: Light years. The organization is run exceptionally well. Andy Roeser and Gary Sacks have done a tremendous job and Donald Sterling has spent the money.
The proof is in the pudding. Every time I walk into this facility and I sit in my office and look onto the practice floor I’m thinking, ‘what a wonderful place to work in.’ They’ve supplied us with the tools and that’s all you can ever ask for as a coach or a player.
I came from the days you had to wake up every morning and call the team trainer to find out where we were practicing and half the time he didn’t have the answer. Then you’d call back in a half hour and he was still looking.
Now we have a facility that’s as good as any in the league. We have chefs in the morning cooking food. We have chiropractors and nutritionists. I mean, there’s a worker for a worker. It’s absolutely run the right way. And that was done before I got here, I’m just trying to improve from that point.
And in saying that, the Clippers are now a destination for players, correct?
DR: And that’s a coincidence. Because when I got to Boston that was what was said. Nobody wants to come to Boston. Everybody looked down on Boston.
And I can remember sitting with Danny Ainge saying, “Forget winning, the first thing we have to do is make this a destination players want to come to. The winning will follow.”
Coming here, all that’s already in place. And that’s good.
You had a number of post-playing career options – coaching and broadcasting being the primary two. You’ve done both, but what about coaching intrigued you most?
DR: I give Pat Riley most of the credit. I never really thought about coaching. Even way back when Mike Fratello, my coach in Atlanta, told me I’d be a coach someday and I’d think, “No way and look like you, tired all the time?” And, of course, Larry Brown was a big influence.
But Pat Riley, just the way he coached and the ability he had to rally teams together was amazing. And I always thought, man, that’s pretty cool. But Pat told me I would coach one day and I said, “No way!’ And he laughed and said: ‘I hear you but I’m not listening.’
And he said, “You will coach, because you have to be in the fray. You’ll enjoy broadcasting, but you won’t enjoy not being in the fray.”
And he was right. I hate to say that but he was.