Austin Rivers and Anno Domini Beats were like wine and cheese in 2010-2011.
In the early 2010s, Rivers had some of the most unbelievable high school mixtapes you’ll ever see. At Winter Park High School in Florida, and on the AAU circuit, the then soon-to-be Duke guard was one of the best teenagers in his class, and was probably by far the most-watched prior to his college days.
Dawg, look at this shit:
He was one of the original viral sensations during the early social media era, where we’d still retweet using the letters “RT” on Twitter and post memes with those big ass white letters that stopped being funny at least five years ago. People were calling him the best player in the nation, and at a time where the step-back jumper really boomed in popularity among younger basketball players, Rivers was a frequent user of the move before seemingly everyone had it in their repertoire. (Around that time, Kemba Walker and Kyrie Irving were two of the others, for reference.)
Last night, Rivers channeled his true self in the Denver Nuggets’ Game 3-sealing victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. It’s like he had been waiting for this moment his entire career; Lord knows that the BallIsLife O.G.’s knew this day would come.
With the help of four threes, Rivers netted 16 fourth-quarter points within a seven-minute span, elevating the Nuggets to victory. He even utilized his Winter Park-patented crossover-step-back combination for his fourth three with 3:51 to go. The 10-year-ago versions of many hoop heads across the country grinned in unison. (2:04 in the below highlight video.) Rivers finished with 21 points and five threes, hitting 7-of-14 from the field and 5-of-10 from deep.
Rivers, who began the season with the New York Knicks — playing 21 games — averaged 8.7 points and 2.6 assists while putting up 42 / 38 / 71 shooting splits in 26 games with the Nuggets this regular season. However, Rivers’ last game as a Knick was played on February 13, and he waived (by the tanking Oklahoma City Thunder) immediately after being involved in a three-team deal in late March. Rivers signed a 10-day deal with Denver on April 20, making his debut the next night, which was more than two months since his most recent outing. He arrived about one week following the untimely ACL tear of Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, who was a key to their 2020 Western Conference Finals run.
Rivers and Tom Thibodeau reportedly had a difficult dynamic, to which the combo guard commented on following the victory.
“I sat there for like a month and a half waiting for the phone to ring,” Rivers said after the game. “All the feedback I kept getting was that a lot of teams liked me, but they didn’t know what type of character I was and how I’d be in the locker room. My basketball ability was never questioned, it was who I was as a person, which is actually even worse, and truthfully, it broke my heart because I know who I am.”
For now, Rivers is turning back the clock and getting his moment in the sun, as are his exes and their pugnacious fan base. As for the series, which Denver leads 2-1, Game 4 is Saturday at 4 p.m. EST.