Stephen A. Smith expects Russell Westbrook to continue to give Kevin Durant the cold shoulder during the All-Star game. (1:59)
Worry about making Russell Westbrook happy, instead.
Rivers said his strategy when he coached the midseason game was to make sure the guys who could beat him later weren’t mad at him, even at the expense of playing time for his own players.
“I made sure they loved me, the other ones,” the Los Angeles Clippers coach said. “I knew my guys liked me. That was not my concern.”
Kerr will coach the Western Conference, and his team includes four of his Golden State players and Westbrook.
Judging by the way Durant and Westbrook barked at each other Saturday when the Warriors played in Oklahoma City for the first time since Durant switched teams over the summer, it’s clear some icy feelings remain.
Rivers coached the East in 2008 and 2011 while with Boston, and he didn’t bother asking his Celtics who they wanted to play with, or how much they wanted to play.
“Like, I would bench them,” Rivers said. “But I didn’t want some guy trying to score 50 on us when we played them, so I was really good at that and I went to each guy, ‘How much do you want to play? Do you want to play?'”
Kerr led the West to victory in 2015 as a rookie coach. He remembers congratulating the players selected and poking fun at them with a lighthearted video — which may not work again with Westbrook’s intensity — and recalls doing little coaching until the end.
“I remember handing the ball to Chris Paul seven straight times and turning to the assistants and saying, ‘You know, what a phenomenal coaching job that was, giving the ball to Chris like that,'” he joked. “Nobody else could have thought of that.”