Doc Rivers realizes Wednesday was last time he will coach against the retiring Kobe Bryant

Clippers Lakers Basketball

Chris Paul of the Clippers exchanges pleasantries with the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant before Wednesday night’s game, won 91-81 by the Clippers. Bryant is retiring at the end of the season/AP photo by Mark J. Terrill


Clippers coach Doc Rivers retired as a player after the 1995-96 season. Kobe Bryant of the Lakers did not begin his NBA career until 1996-97, so the two never tangled with each other on the floor.

But as coach and player, they had plenty of hotly contested games. Rivers coached the Boston Celtics to the 2008 NBA title over Bryant and the Lakers. The Lakers and Bryant got their revenge in 2010, when they beat the Celtics in the Finals and Bryant was MVP of the series.

When Wednesday’s game between the Clippers and Lakers ended – the Clippers won 91-81 – it meant that would be the last time Rivers and Bryant would square off because Bryant will be retiring at the end of this season, which is next week.

It has started to sink in for Rivers.

“Yeah, at the very end it actually did,” Rivers said. “I didn’t think it would, honestly. It’s funny, from a coaching standpoint, you’re so competitive. You just think about beating them, beating them, beating them, beating them and then at the very end, you start thinking ‘Wow, this is it.’ And that’s the first thing he walked over and said, ‘Man, we had some amazing wars.’ And he’s right. It was pretty cool.”