Rivers Tries to Focus on Positives of Injury

Austin Rivers and Doc Rivers

March 21, 2013

When someone is known as an eternal optimist, that person is often said to be a “cup half-full” kind of guy. In terms of his mental outlook toward the broken right hand that likely ended his rookie NBA season, you might say that New Orleans Hornets guard Austin Rivers’ cup is not merely half-full – it’s overflowing, spilling over the sides.

Instead of moping about the fact that his professional debut was cut short six weeks and 20 games by the injury he sustained vs. the Lakers on March 6, the Duke University product has chosen to focus only on the positives. Shortly after he learned of his broken shooting hand, Rivers half-jokingly told reporters that it was actually a blessing in disguise, because now he’d only be able to use his left hand, making it impossible not to improve it.

When Rivers was asked about missing a second opportunity to go head-to-head against his father, Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, the 20-year-old pointed out before the March 20 game that due to his DNP, the family scoreboard this summer would read Austin 1, Doc 0.

“At the end of the day, I’m one up,” Austin said, with the hint of a smile. “Even if (the Celtics) win tonight, I wasn’t playing, so they didn’t beat me. I’ve got the whole summer and all through the next year until we play again. So (Doc) can’t really say too much to me.”

The Hornets went on to prevail anyway over the Celtics in what would’ve been the second edition of the “Rivers Bowl,” 97-96 on an Anthony Davis tip-in, giving Austin additional reason to crow when he spends time with family this offseason.

Speaking of the coming months, Rivers will be participating on the Hornets’ NBA Summer League team in July, one key week in his preparation for the 2013-14 season. After an admittedly rough first couple months to his rookie campaign, Rivers showed signs of improvement just prior to the injury, including going 12-for-17 from the field in his final three games. His 10-point first half against the Lakers may have been his best of the entire season, but he did not return after halftime due to the broken hand.

Of his 61 games of NBA experience, Rivers is philosophical, but again focusing on the bright side.

“Things are going to be up and down. That’s just part of being a rookie,” he said. “For some (players) more than others. I had it more than others, which is cool, because at the end of the day, I know it’s going to help me. Because I had to go through all of these rough patches and figure it out. Sometimes you can second-guess yourself, but I started getting more minutes and played better. It’s not easy. If it was easy, anyone could play in this league.”

During Doc’s 24-hour stay in the Crescent City, son and father went out to dinner at world-famous Emeril’s on the evening before Celtics-Hornets. Unbeknownst to Austin, when the meal came to a close, he had to pick up the check for Dad. That, however, was also something Austin viewed as a positive turn of events.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever paid for my dad,” Austin said. “He said he has taken care of me my whole life so I’ve got to catch up. At the end of the (night), the bill came and I was ready to get up. I was like, ‘All right.’ He looked at me like, ‘It’s your turn now.’

“It feels good. Finally you take care of somebody that has taken care of your whole life. I’ve been so blessed. My father has been able to do more than wonders for me. For me to finally be able to do something for him, it’s nice.”