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uring the rocky beginnings of his pro career, when Austin Rivers was running low on both confidence and playing time, he would seek advice from an NBA head coach — but not the one he played for.
That’s one of the benefits of being Doc Rivers’s son.
“Doc and I have our own relationship,” Krzyzewski said. He tried to just be his dad, and he did a really good job of being his dad — and we’re still friends after it, so obviously he did a good job.” Duke’s roster included several future NBA players that season — Austin, Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins, the Plumlee brothers — and the Blue Devils managed a 27-6 record and 2-seed in the NCAA tournament, but they were upset in the first round by Lehigh behind C. “A lot of times, the players get the brunt of that. And I think Austin got that because of who he was and the kind of talent he was.” Austin had led Duke in scoring, averaging 15.5 points per game, but skeptics doubted his playmaking ability. “It had nothing to do with Duke why I left,” Austin said. It’s that simple.” hen New Orleans plucked Austin with the 10th overall pick in the 2012 draft, it was considered an ideal landing spot for the young guard.
“We’re very close friends and have been friends for a long time. The franchise had grabbed Anthony Davis with the no. People think I hate Monty Williams or [general manager] Dell Demps because they brought in guys and I didn’t play that much. That was nobody’s fault except mine.” As a rookie, Austin started the season opener in place of the injured Eric Gordon, but after nine games he lost his starting spot to Roger Mason Jr.
“Duke is bigger than [one person] — this isn’t Austin Rivers, this is Duke University,” Joseph said.
“That was a very good learning point for him, and once he caught on and started to understand it’s Coach K’s way or the highway, he started playing well.” Austin began to turn his season around after he hit a game-winning shot against North Carolina in Chapel Hill to give Duke an 85-84 victory.
I got punched in the mouth, and it took me a while to adjust,” Austin said.
“You combine that with his work ethic, you knew he was going to go far in this game.” Austin finished his high school career as the nation’s top recruit, seemingly fast-tracked toward an NBA career that would surpass his father’s, but then, during his first and only season at Duke, he encountered his first significant career hurdle.Only this time it was Austin who received the brunt of the criticism. His mother, Kris Rivers, grew accustomed to letting insults roll off her back at her children’s games, and with time, Austin learned to do the same. “How would you deal with it if you’re 9 years old, people are telling you, ‘You suck’? They don’t feel bad for you because of who your dad is.” The pressure grew at Winter Park High School, and Austin met the challenge.“When he first got traded, you look online, Twitter, they were killing the guy: ‘You’re a bum.’ ‘You can’t play.’ ‘Your dad is risking his career,’” Joseph said. People can always say, ‘I block out the media.’ [But] they read that stuff. But when he was still young, the taunts tormented Austin. He devoted himself to improving his game and wound up being a four-year starter, developing into a slashing, scoring guard while capturing Class-6A Florida state championships in 20.“He would always look to pass first, and you could just see hesitation in his shot,” Joseph said.“When he was in New Orleans, he just wanted to get on the floor so bad that he forgot what got him there.