Here’s an Austin Rivers story you’d expect to hear: Whenever he plays Monopoly — something he estimates he does more than 60 times each summer with a group of people close to him in matches he says get “hostile pretty quickly” — he makes sure to pick the same piece every time.
Rivers fancies himself a shooter, so he picks the cannon.
You probably read that and thought, “Of course.” This is the reputation that Rivers has built up over his basketball playing career, someone with a kind of cockiness and arrogance that stems from him perpetually wanting to have a green light because, well, he’s Austin Rivers.
If you were to describe an NBA player you’d be inclined to believe had everything handed to him, you’d probably pick Rivers. His dad, Glenn “Doc” Rivers, was an NBA All-Star as a player and a champion as a coach, he was the No. 1 recruit in the country in high school, he went to Duke, and when his NBA career seemed to hit a low point, his dad gave him a job.
All of this has led to a perception about Rivers that he’s had difficulty shaking. But throughout his life, that perception has fueled him, and above everything else, on and off the court, he wants to prove to everyone that this perception is wrong.
“I’ve done everything in my power to be the best player that I can be,” Rivers says, “and I’ve worked my ass off and the people still somehow say reckless, crazy things sometimes. I wish people would get to know me and actually do their homework on me as a person. So if they want to judge my character and actually watch me play, then judge me. My job first and foremost is to help my team win.”
Rivers goes on to add confidently, “But I will make people respect my game.”