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July 31, 2023

Former Sixers coach Doc Rivers expected to join top ESPN broadcast

Sixers fans will recognize the voice calling games on ESPN next season.

If you were a Sixers fan who thought you could avoid Doc Rivers for the foreseeable future, you'll probably have to avoid national broadcasts in the years to come.

According to Andrew Marchand over at the New York Post, Rivers is expected to join the top NBA broadcast over at ESPN, joining Mike Breen and a soon-to-be promoted Doris Burke in the lead roles. Burke and Rivers are reportedly on track to replace Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson — Van Gundy was let go in a round of ESPN layoffs earlier this year, while Jackson is on the verge of a potential demotion or exit from his role entirely.

It has been quite a long time since Rivers has been in a broadcast booth, though he earned fairly strong reviews when he was in the analyst's chair for ESPN/ABC. To give you an idea of how much the world has changed since Rivers was a high-level broadcaster, Al Michaels was ABC's lead commentator for the 2004 NBA Finals that Rivers was a part of. The legendary broadcaster has since moved on to two different primetime football gigs, while Rivers' temporary coaching hiatus lasted just a year before stops in Boston, L.A., and Philadelphia.

While Rivers got into the mix for coaching jobs outside of Philly this offseason, it seems from the outside that some time away will do him some good, as he has been in a series of high-profile, high-pressure jobs for basically two decades straight. A bit of reflection on what went wrong and where his philosophies fit in the modern game can't hurt, and in the meantime, he'll have some valuable insight to share as a much more recent head coach than the men he's set to replace.

And it is my duty to make sure you see this clip of Rivers from his early post-playing days, where his voice hardly resembles the more raspy tone he sports today:

Almost hard to believe it's the same guy.

In any case, there will be plenty of people who didn't like Rivers the coach who might enjoy Rivers the broadcaster, as his media appearances are generally better received. Rivers' podcast interview with Bill Simmons earlier this offseason was a window into how he felt about the team he oversaw for the last three seasons. The former head coach offered some insight into his relationship with James Harden, and what he thought Joel Embiid needed to do in order to make the next step as a franchise centerpiece.

"I stayed on him daily, he has the ability to make his teammates better. And when he does that, you look at our games this year, when he did that and dominated, hard to go away from Joel Embiid. He's just got to do that on a consistent basis. Not just on the court, but also off the court," Rivers said. "Just be around your guys and spend time with your guys and let them know that you love them because they love you. And so I thought Jo in the three years you could see the growth there. I think we forget how young he is, we also forget his first two years he didn't play, and Bill I'm telling you, that sets a tone.:

 "When you miss two years and you're sitting there all of the time and you get used to not playing in games, Ben Simmons went through the same thing, he missed the first year. Fighting that early on when I first got there was huge. 'Jo, you need to play tonight. Jo, you can play tonight.' Now he's up in games, so he's doing it, he's crossed that barrier. The next one will be making his teammates better, when he does that it's going to be hard to stop. And I think he will do it."

But if you don't want to hear Rivers' thoughts on the Sixers so soon after leaving them, I can imagine you'll have access to alternative options. At the least, your mute button should still work.

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