This time not even all Pat Riley’s NBA title rings may be able to save him
Legend has it that Riley more or less closed the deal in luring LeBron James and Chris Bosh to South Beach in 2010 by walking into the meeting rooms with them and simply dropping all his championship hardware before them. As Bosh recalls, Riley actually even gave him 2006 ring, with the strict instruction “give me that back when you come here and win yours.”
Three years in, two titles won, and another summer of free agency upon them, now comes word that Riley is immensely worried all the good times may be about to come to an abrupt end. James, Bosh, and even career Heat cornerstone Dwyane Wade can all become free agents again this summer and that has Riley wondering if even his family-friendly approach and ever-personal touch can win out this time around.
“I always have concern when players are in the situation they’re in,” Riley admitted to ESPN. “But we feel we have the best organization in the league for those players to stay, and to also attract others to want to come here. With our three guys, we hope that this turns into a generational team. And that it’s not just we’re at the end of this four-year run right now because players have some options this summer.”
With Wade having missed 23 games and James having endured more nagging injuries than at any time his career, the Heat still find themselves with the Eastern Conference’s best overall record and No.1 seed with just nine regular season games remaining.
“Ever since I came here, and (team owner) Micky Arison and I hooked up, the whole concept was you wanted to win,” said Riley. “He really wanted to win and wanted to put on a great show and have a great product. Right off the bat, right out of the blocks.”
But now they’re faced with a summer that again could change the landscape. James told NBA TV in February that he couldn’t envision a scenario in which he would leave Miami. Wade is on record with his hopes of being a career-long member of the organization. And Bosh repeatedly has said he’d prefer to remain with the team.
Still, in the face of multi-million contracts and signing bonuses a deal isn’t a deal until it’s a deal. But, at least, Riley will always be Riley.
“He doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone. Not me, not Dwyane, not Chris. No one,” said James. “His résumé speaks for itself. His stature speaks for itself. So we’ll see what happens.”