Doc Rivers is the new head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, but the midseason hire made for some awkward timing at his old job as well.
The veteran NBA head coach was in his first season as a color commentator alongside Mike Breen and Doris Burke, joining the network after his exit from the Philadelphia 76ers. He earned solid reviews in his three months on the job.
Now a duo, Breen and Burke were still scheduled to call a game between the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, and used the opportunity to say goodbye while poking a little fun at their ex-colleague.
Mike Breen and Doris Burke pay tribute to Doc Rivers, who left ESPN for the Milwaukee Bucks, with Breen quipping, "We thank him for all his many weeks of service." pic.twitter.com/spTFRFnHjN
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) January 25, 2024
"First order of business is who's available tonight. For Dallas, Kyrie Irving is out. For Phoenix, Eric Gordon is out. For ABC/ESPN, Doc Rivers is out.
"Our dear friend has decided that life as an NBA broadcaster is way too stressful so he's decided to opt for a less stressful job, an NBA head coach on a team that's trying to win a championship. We thank him for all his many weeks of service and we wish him all the luck in the world."
Burke went the more earnest route, trying to hold back tears as she endorsed him as both a coach and broadcaster:
"Selfishly, I'm going to miss him. I'm going to try not to choke up here. Doc just brought unbelievable energy every single day. He was positive, he threw himself into what we were trying to do. But the question is no longer what he can do for you and I, Mike. It's what he can do for a 30-win Buck team.
"Even through all that success, something felt amiss in Milwaukee, but our friend has got a legit shot to compete in the East and I'm going to try to be happy for you, Doc."
Those comments underscore how odd the situation is in Milwaukee, even now that they have their head coach. The team hired former Toronto Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin for the job last offseason and later traded for Damian Lillard, tasking him with managing what it hoped would be burgeoning superteam.
The result was a good team, no doubt. The Bucks' record of 30-13 is currently second in the Eastern Conference. However, there were cracks emerging in the foundation by the week and now Rivers will be charged with fixing the kind of team that usually doesn't need fixing, with no training camp or preseason.
Rivers had a choice between staying with ESPN, which was no doubt paying him well, or go back into the league for his fifth stint as an NBA head coach. Both Breen and Burke seemed well aware of why he chose what he did.