BETH HARRIS, AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Doc Rivers is staying with the Los Angeles Clippers for another five years.
In Steve Ballmer’s first big move since taking over as the new owner, he gave Rivers a contract extension through the 2018-19 season.
Ballmer said Wednesday it was one of his top priorities to ensure that Rivers remains as the long-term leader of the team. Rivers was a stabilizing force for the franchise during the upheaval created by former owner Donald Sterling’s racist remarks that led to his ouster after 33 years of ownership.
“Not only is Doc one of the best coaches and executives in the game, but he continually embodies the hardcore, committed and resilient character and winning culture that the Clippers represent,” Ballmer said, repeating the “hardcore” theme he uttered during last week’s fan rally.
Interim CEO Dick Parsons testified during Sterling’s court battle with his estranged wife to keep the team, saying Rivers would quit if Sterling was successful.
“I didn’t think I was going to have to, honestly,” Rivers said last week. “But I think a lot of us would have been willing to, for sure.”
Now, Rivers can settle in knowing he has a new owner who is passionate about the game and eager to support the team.
“With Steve’s leadership, we have this opportunity to be this great organization,” Rivers said last week. “That’s probably what makes me the most excited because I know if you get that part right, the basketball part will become easier in some ways, and that’s good.”
Rivers joined the team in June 2013 and added president of basketball operations to his responsibilities two months ago.
The 52-year-old coach guided the Clippers to the best record in franchise history at 57-25 and a second straight Pacific Division title last season. They lost to Oklahoma City in the second round of the playoffs.
Rivers has a career regular-season record of 644-498 and a 70-64 playoff mark, with previous head coaching stints in Boston, where he won the 2008 NBA title, and Orlando.
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