Austin Rivers was a legend as a high schooler. His mixtapes are still among the greatest high school tapes ever and he was an incredibly hyped prospect when he decided to play at Duke.
Unfortunately, that hype led him to being heavily criticized when he was merely able to become a very solid professional and not a transcendent superstar at the NBA level that many thought he could be when he was 17 years old. Rivers himself seemed to have that expectation of himself as well, and Kevin Garnett and Tony Allen recently joined the Chris Vernon Show and told a story of a junior year Austin Rivers coming to the Celtics facility and challenging guys to games of 1-on-1.
Allen and Garnett note that Rivers “mopped” Kendrick Perkins 5-0 in a game to five, which is when the young guard was feeling himself enough to challenge KG to a game as Garnett came out of the weight room. Garnett and Allen then tell a story of Rivers dunking on KG the first possession, forcing Garnett to lace up his shoes and get serious before beating him 5-1.
It’s a pretty spectacular story and Garnett knew then and there Rivers was going to be a pro in a few years. Rivers still has that self-confidence to believe he belongs with the very best, and while he doesn’t always produce to that level it’s the kind of thing pro athletes have to have to go at the elite players on the court. Still, it’s a reminder that you should never challenge KG to much of anything because he will become, in his words, “the dragon” and torch you.