Doc Rivers caught heck for it when it happened. But time, the transformation of an entire organization and having Chris Paul as your new point guard tend to soften things up a bit over the years.

And 22 years later, Rivers can laugh about the year he spent as a player with the Clippers and the time a reporter congratulated him after a game.

“For what?” Rivers asked.

“That was your seventh straight win,” he was informed.

“And?' Rivers replied.

“That's a new franchise record,” the reporter informed him.

Rivers' jaw nearly hit the floor.

“Seven wins in a row is the franchise record?” he asked in astonishment.

That was then, this is now. And Rivers' return as head coach is quite a bit advanced from the one for which a meager seven-game winning streak was considered a grand achievement.

And for the first time in forever, that means the man coaching the Clippers is in a far safer place than his counterpart with the Lakers.

While Rivers oversees the young, talented Clippers and has a flashy championship ring letting them know what's up whenever they step out of line, Mike D'Antoni tries to rebuild his image after his mostly disastrous first year with the Lakers.

Rivers has security, a proven track record and talent that translates for the present and immediate future.

D'Antoni has two more years left on the three-year, $12 million dollar contract he signed last November, but that's just paper security. If things turn sour the Lakers will not hesitate to replace him, especially with so much at stake next summer when they pursue big-name free agents.

He also has Kobe Bryant coming off a serious injury, an aging Steve Nash, a Pau Gasol in the final year of his contract and a bunch of other players on one-year deals auditioning for work next season.

If ever there was a case of two coaches presiding over two completely different situations, it's Rivers and D'Antoni.

And that is remarkable, considering the Clippers Rivers recalls as a player in no way resembles the team he now coaches.

When Rivers played here in 1991 he remembers early morning calls to the team trainer to find out the time and location for that day's practice.

“Call back in a half hour, still working on it,” was a common response.

Rivers now sits in his office at the Clippers' first-class practice facility and marvels at everything he has at his finger tips.

“We have chefs in the morning cooking food. We have chiropractors and nutritionists,” Rivers said. “I mean, there's a worker for a worker.”

The significance being, as opposed to the Clippers he played for and the one that carried on through most of the last 22 years, not only is everything in place to succeed internally but the external perception is as good as it's ever been.

The Clippers are a viable destination for players and coaches, Rivers being a case in point as he left the historic Boston Celtics for a chance to be a part of the Clippers.

Paul likes it so much he re-upped last summer. Blake Griffin didn't hesitate to sign a long-term extension. Established role players like Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick were eager to jump aboard as well.

Whether that new and improved image means more wins in the postseason remains to be seen, but Rivers' task is abundantly easier knowing all of his focus is geared toward winning rather than convincing and cajoling players to come here.

“All that's already in place,” Rivers said. “And that's good.”

All that is left now is for the Clippers to buy into Rivers, which seems inevitable considering the resume he brings with him from his hugely successful run in Boston — two NBA Final appearances, one NBA title — and his track record as an intuitive coach who can meld volatile personalities like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo into cohesive units.

Across town in El Segundo, D'Antoni faces an entirely different challenge, although in many ways what he's dealing with now is far less explosive than the toxic situation he inherited from Mike Brown nearly a year ago.

That could make for a more peaceful ride, if not more victories.

Whether that saves his job remains to be seen.

D'Antoni is on the hot seat, to be sure. And he understands his future with the Lakers depends on what kind of team he puts onto the floor each night.

The question is, will he be judged on the amount of wins the Lakers accumulate or the strides they make in his system?

Do they have to make the playoffs or is nurturing a better environment and creating the type of player-friendly system he built with the Phoenix Suns enough to buy him more time?

Is it fair to judge him with Bryant still working his way back from Achilles' tendon surgery and a fading Nash showing his age, or does the organization fully commit to D'Antoni as they begin the rebuilding process in earnest next summer?

This much seems certain, at least: Without Dwight Howard moping around and refusing to participate in D'Antoni's offense, the chemistry already is greatly improved.

That might not translate into a playoff appearance, but the Lakers might be more fun to watch.

Whether that means D'Antoni sticks around beyond next year is anyone's guess.

In that regard, he and Rivers could not be in two more contrasting situations.