Pat Riley was shaken when LeBron James left the Miami Heat to return to Cleveland in 2014. The wounds are clearly still a little raw.
Riley and LeBron were a power couple up there with any player-executive combo in the 21st century NBA. The duo made it to 4 straight Finals, winning 2 championships and ushering in a new era of small ball.
However, it seemed to LeBron that they’d run their course after their ignominous defeat in the 2014 NBA Finals. An exit seemed to be on his mind even during this free agency meeting with Pat.
Riley knew this, and he understood that James was probably gone, but he was still hit hard when his franchise’s best player left at his peak despite his exemplary executive decision-making:
“I was silent. I didn’t say anything. My mind began to just go. And it was over. I was very angry when LeBron left. It was personal for me. It just was.”
“I had a very good friend who talked me off the ledge and kept me from going out there and saying something like Dan Gilbert. I’m glad I didn’t do it.”
Pat Riley reveals his true feelings about how LeBron James departed from South Beach
Riley was on the Da LeBatard 24hr stream recently where he gave us some really informative nuggets of NBA insider info. LeBatard disappointed a ton of viewers by appearing to keep Riley shorter than expected.
Godfather Pat Riley still gave us a taste of that sweet LeBron/Miami teaser that we’ve all been waiting for:
“I would leave the key under the doormat if he would call and let me know he’s coming. I would do that, but I doubt very much if that key …. that key’s rusted now.”
“Look, I wish him nothing but the best. And if he ever wanted to come back, then I’ll put a new shiny key under that mat.”
LeBatard and co could really do with neater production and better delivery on their questions.