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Rivers flows over



By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

Wednesday, January 24, 2001
ORLANDO -- Orlando Magic coach Doc Rivers thinks there should be an NBA award specifically designed for Raptors forward Charles Oakley.

"Role player of the year," Rivers said. "Oak would win that every year.

"A lot of people think that's what the sixth-man-of-the-year award is, but it's not. Sometimes your sixth man can be your leading scorer. I'm talking about a guy who just does all the little things to help his team win.

WITH THE KNICKS

"They give an award for everything else in this league, so why not?"

When it was suggested to Rivers the NBA could name a role-player-of-the-year award for Oakley, 37, after he retires, Rivers said, "That would be a great award."

Rivers got to know Oakley when the two were teammates with the New York Knicks for close to three seasons.

"He is the best, a great teammate, but before we played for the same team I didn't even like him," Rivers said with a laugh. "I thought he was dirty. Then when you play with him, you realize yes, he is dirty. But it's a good dirty."

Raptors fans are familiar with Oakley's habit of firing the odd crazy pass, which can result either in an uncontested layup for a teammate or an ugly turnover. Rivers said when Oakley was in New York, the Knicks counted on one ridiculous pass per game.

"We used to get nervous when it got into the fourth quarter of a close game and Oak hadn't thrown one yet," Rivers said. "We wanted him to do one of those crazy, behind-the-back things in the first quarter, to get it out of his system."

Rivers acknowledged there is no one else like Oakley in the game today. Oakley simply smiled when told of Rivers' compliments.

"Doc is a class act and it's hard to find guys like that these days," Oakley said. "He's like Scott Skiles (the coach of the Phoenix Suns). They're hard-nosed, young coaches who try to get the most out of their players."