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The start of Austin’s college career coincided with the NBA lockout that year, allowing Doc to attend several Duke games in person. “Anytime you’re at a place like Duke and anytime you don’t carry out your goal and expectations of going to an Elite Eight or going to a Final Four or whatever it may be, people are going to try and place blame,” said Chris Collins, a Duke assistant coach at the time and now head coach at Northwestern.Critics suggested that the way Austin dominated the ball on offense was an important reason that team didn’t come together as well as it could have. Everybody could have through that whole thing.” In an early-season game against Michigan State, Rivers scored just five points on 1-of-7 shooting. Austin’s size and talent at the high school level made the game seem easy.“We just didn’t mesh as good as we wanted to,” Austin said. It was one of those things where you just have to learn from it and get better. Back then, he always handled the ball for his teams, and on possessions where he passed off to teammates, he often got the ball back. In college, Joseph, Austin’s youth coach, told his former pupil to be ready for change.Drawing on 30 years of experience in the league, Doc told Austin to get back in the gym — to stay deep into the night if necessary — and work with the future in mind. I needed a chance.” Navigating the terrain between father and son, player and coach had never been especially difficult for the Riverses throughout Austin’s childhood.“When I was in New Orleans, I’d talk to him a lot, because he would help me through what I was going through,” Austin said. Doc stalked the Boston Celtics sideline much of the year and could be an active father to his four children only during brief respites from the NBA.Austin had always imagined hitting big shots against his dad’s teams — not for them. If they don’t read it, one of their buddies has told them about it, right? If you’re human, it’s going to affect you.” Once consummated, the trade, via the Celtics, rejuvenated Austin’s career and provided highlight moments in playoff performances against the Spurs and Rockets. He regarded himself as one of the worst players on one of his initial youth basketball teams, and outsiders were happy to agree.“It’s never been done before, so why would I think that it would be done? Doc is one of the league’s most revered coaches, but his moves as a decision-maker have been questioned, and his January trade for Austin generated more skepticism. And now the experiment of a son playing under his father in the NBA is about to enter its first full season. “Then, when people said you’re only there because of your dad, it’s almost true,” Austin said.“He just had that much more athleticism than everybody else,” coach David Bailey 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.But it wasn’t there, for whatever reason.” So Austin heeded the advice from his father, who had moved on to coach the Clippers.He got back in the gym and dedicated himself to training as hard as he’s ever trained. Just go be myself, and if I do that, then I can really show how good of a player I can be. I was so pissed that for the past two years, I’ve been putting so much pressure on myself, just for no reason.” rowing up, there was no way for Austin to escape the shadow of his last name.


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