The Los Angeles Clippers had lost six times in a row going into their NBA game Monday night against the Phoenix Suns.
All it took were some visitors from Peoria, the cradle of the crossover dribble, to put an end to that.
"The first thing he said was something like 'Bradley, you can come to any game you want to,'" Bradley communications professor Chris Marsh said about Rivers' postgame news conference.
Marsh and 10 students are spending about 10 days in California for a class called "Behind the Scenes." According to Marsh, the senior-level class is about storytelling through various mediums.
Students are meeting with Bradley alumni and others who work in the entertainment, motion-picture, radio, sports and television industries. Stops include tapings of "The Price is Right," "The Late Late Show with James Corden" and "The Big Bang Theory."
Also on the schedule, on the first day of the trip, was an evening at Staples Center, the home of the Clippers. There the class met with Bradley graduate and Peoria native Ralph Lawler, who for most of the last 40 years has been the Clippers' main play-by-play broadcaster.
The class also attended the game and the pre- and postgame news conferences of Rivers, a native of Chicago's western suburbs.
After the victory, Rivers' mood was even better, apparently.
According to Marsh, during the news conference the coach asked the Bradley students if they had any questions. Seniors Philip Dittmeier and Mark Steubinger and junior D.J. Gasso took up Rivers' offer.
"My kids were over the moon. We all were," Marsh told Nick in the Morning. "One of our students asked a question, and Doc Rivers really gave a nice, thoughtful and heartfelt response. To have that guy's attention, even for a few moments, it was thrilling.
"Mark said to me, 'I can't believe I asked Doc Rivers a question, and he answered it. Where am I?'"
More sports is on the agenda later in the trip, which ends Jan. 12, The class is to meet with Shelley Wagner, the advertising and special-promotions director for baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers. Marsh said it's uncertain if they'll meet with Charley Steiner, a Bradley alum who is a Dodgers play-by-play broadcaster and the namesake of the university's school of sports communication.
But Marsh and his charges already have received sage wisdom from Drew Carey, the comedian who also is host of "The Price is Right."
"He really kind of stopped the comedy and gave the kids some flat-out, no B.S. advice," said Marsh, a Bradley alum and East Peoria native. "He said, 'You'll get your degree, come out here and nobody's going to care about your degree. You'll get a first job making copies and getting coffee.
'But if you get there 10 minutes early and stay 10 minutes late and do those extra things, you're going to move up.'"