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MILWAUKEE -- Shortly after the scheduled 11:30 a.m. CT start time, Doc Rivers strode to the podium at Fiserv Forum, flanked by general manager Jon Horst, to address the media for the first time as the newest head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks

"Being back here is a dream," Rivers said, of returning to the city where he played college basketball for Marquette. "I think about Rick [Majerus] and Al [McGuire] and Hank [Raymonds]. This is where I learned really most of my basketball knowledge. I came from three geniuses. I really did. They taught me basketball. They taught me life."

Now, Rivers is going to be the one imparting the lessons. His experience -- four seasons at Marquette, 13 seasons as a player in the NBA and the last 24 seasons as a head coach -- is the main reason the Bucks hired him. The Bucks' talent, namely Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard, is the main reason he took the job. 

Putting it all together on the fly, with the expectation of competing for a title, will be one of the biggest challenges he's faced in his career. If it wasn't worth it, though, he would still be back on the golf course enjoying retirement. 

"When I took the Boston [Celtics] job [in 2008] I got a lot of calls from coaches to tell me not to take the job, the expectations will be too unrealistic," Rivers recalled. "I'm like, 'What? That's ridiculous.' You want that. You want expectations. And this team has them."

With the Rivers era now officially underway, here are some key takeaways from his introductory press conference:

Rivers denies being a consultant for Griffin... or does he?

Shortly after the Bucks made the shock decision to fire first-year head coach Adrian Griffin despite a stellar 30-13 record, The Athletic reported that Rivers had been serving as an informal consultant to Griffin since December, and was now the leading candidate to be his replacement. 

Even giving Rivers the benefit of the doubt, that was not a great look for the veteran coach. On Saturday, Rivers denied that report.

"Yeah, that's not true," Rivers said. "I don't know where that came from. I was never a consultant. If I was, I need to be paid some more money for that because I didn't get a check."

As he continued to speak, though, he acknowledged that he was friends with Griffin and spoke with him on multiple occasions, including in recent days. 

"Adrian and I are good friends," Rivers explained. "I talked to Adrian the last three days. I talked to him the night of the firing, I talked to him, we talk a lot. Listen, I wanted him to do well. I look at him as a guy that - he's a lifer - and for 15 years, he was trying to get a job and then he gets a job and it doesn't work out for him. And this league in a lot of ways can be fair and not fair, that's for everybody else to judge, I just know him as a human. And he's a terrific dude."

Later in the press conference he also admitted that earlier this season he would "call coaches just to screw with them and talk" because he loved the game and was "bored." That sort of activity can certainly fall into the category of informal consulting. 

Why the Bucks job was enticing

Rivers parted ways with the Philadelphia 76ers at the conclusion of last season, ending a run of 24 consecutive seasons as a head coach -- one of the longest streaks in the league. He had transitioned into a role in the media with ESPN and was enjoying plenty of golf. 

He acknowledged that over half a dozen teams had reached out to him during that time, but he hadn't even picked up a call until now. So why? There was the Milwaukee connection, of course, but on the court the primary reason is obvious. 

"Because, I mean, c'mon. You know the answer," Rivers remarked. "Giannis, Dame. Really, that's the answer. Like, you look at their team. You know, I don't ever know the list, right? What is it, eight teams that have a legitimate shot? And I don't know if it's that high, but the Bucks are one of them, right?"

But there were other factors that led to Rivers getting back into the mix. He's always coached veteran teams and the Bucks are about as old as it gets. Their starting lineup has an average age of 31.2 years, and has plenty of playoff and championship experience. 

"The way they're built with the veterans and their grown-ups," Rivers said. "I thought that if you're gonna jump into this at this time of the year, this would be a type of group that you have the best opportunity to connect and change the quickest. So that's why I took the call."

The Bucks' well-established, "first-class" culture was also a "driver" in Rivers' decision. In his last two jobs with the Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers, he had to do a lot of work off the court to re-set the organizational standards, and that's not part of the responsibility in Milwaukee. 

"This place, I was telling Jon, they have it," Rivers said. "And its going to be great because I can coach and that will be fantastic."

What's up with the defense?

The Bucks' biggest issues this season have been on the defensive side of the ball. They're currently 19th in the league and were 21st at the time of Griffin's firing. Even as the league has shifted towards offense, teams that struggle that much defensively rarely win the title. 

As much as the Bucks wanted an experienced hand, they also wanted someone who could fix that side of the ball. Or, at the very least, stabilize things from Griffin's chaotic and aggressive schemes. 

"Defensively we have a talent group that can be better than what they've been so far," Horst said at his press conference earlier this week. "Is that a top-five defense, top-10, top-15? I don't know, and that's what we're trying to decide here with the roster as constructed. We're trying to understand where we can take it. Having the players be better. The players have an accountability to do this, to be better. And then the coaching element."

Rivers pled the fifth to an extent regarding questions about the defense, saying he hasn't been around the team long enough. He did, however, acknowledge that it has to be better. 

"You're correct about the defense [needing to improve], I will say that," Rivers said. "I sat in the stands last night and I saw some of it. But it's here. I think we have to get on the right page, the same page. Our language and communication defensively, we have to get that right. Right now, you can feel it. Some this way, some this way. We've gotta get on the same page. We've got to do things differently too than the past. Jrue [Holiday] and Dame are different players. We have to change some things for sure."