DALLAS — With his first win as coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, Doc Rivers punched his ticket to the All-Star Game.
The Bucks’ 129-117 comeback victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night clinched the honor for Rivers and his staff, who will coach the Eastern Conference All-Stars against the West on Feb. 18 in Indianapolis.
It’s not a distinction that Rivers, who is 1-2 since being hired by Milwaukee on Jan. 26, claims he earned. He intends to give his All-Star ring and bonus to Adrian Griffin, who went 30-13 as the Bucks coach before being fired and replaced by Rivers. Milwaukee went 2-1 during Joe Prunty’s interim stint.
“That is ridiculously bad. It really is,” Rivers said of getting the All-Star nod after one win. “Well, Adrian’s going to get some money, that’s for sure. And a ring. It’s one of these quirky things. I think there should be a rule somehow that someone else does it other than me.”
Saturday’s triumph ensured that the 33-16 Bucks would have the East’s best record through Feb. 4 among teams with coaches eligible for the All-Star duties. The Boston Celtics have the East’s best record at 37-12, but Joe Mazzulla coached in the All-Star Game last year, making him ineligible this season.
So the distinction goes to Rivers after Milwaukee rallied from a 25-point deficit to defeat Dallas.
“He’s going to coach the game?” Bucks All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo said, replying to a reporter’s question with bewilderment.
“That’s pretty funny,” said Bucks All-Star guard Damian Lillard, who had 30 points and eight assists in the win. “It definitely wasn’t a conversation in the locker room.”
Antetokounmpo, who tallied 48 points, 10 assists and 5 steals, pointed out that the Milwaukee assistant coaches were deserving of the honor.
“I’m definitely happy for them,” he said. “It’s a lot of hard work that paid off.”
This will be the fourth All-Star appearance for Rivers as a coach, previously doing so in 2008, 2011 and 2021. He is the fifth person to coach in the All-Star Game after taking over a team during the season, which happened most recently when Tyronn Lue replaced David Blatt with the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2015-16 season.
“Maybe I’ll send my staff and I’ll go on vacation,” said Rivers, who left his job as an ESPN analyst to join the Bucks. “I’m going to run that by Adam Silver. I think Adam’s a good man. I think he’ll understand.”