Long before head coach Doc Rivers found himself defending his Los Angeles Clippers players who were the unwelcome participants in team owner Donald Sterling’s racist comments all week, he was concerned about another sensitive subject: religion.
It was late 1999, the start of Rivers’ first season as coach of the Orlando Magic, and he saw a situation in the locker room that he felt needed to be addressed.
As his players took part in the pregame prayer that was part of their routine, Rivers noticed something he didn’t like.
“I looked up in one of the prayers, and Tariq [Abdul-Wahad] had his arms folded, and you could see that he was really uncomfortable with it,” Rivers said. “So the next game, we were standing up in a circle, and I said, ‘Hey guys, we’re no longer praying.’”