Pat Riley is one of the most influential basketball figures of all time. Despite his legendary status, a fork in the road appears at the latter stage of his career.
The Last Stand for Pat Riley
Riley, a hardened man with slicked-back hair and an equally sharp tongue, didn’t hold much back while publicly addressing the Miami Heat’s offseason dilemmas over five years ago.
“You wanna trend something? I’m pissed get it out there”
Riley opened up his 41-minute press conference with an honest admission. However, the thoughts which followed his light bang of the table weren’t met by an overly emotional rant; on the contrary, it was comments of a firm resolve knowing everything will be ok.
When Riley speaks, the world listens.
The man has seen enough basketball to educate the masses on the generational differences in the NBA. He knows all about the continual evolution of the game. In the genesis of his head coaching career, he led the “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers, a team built of flash and little grit. Ironically, in the ’90s, Riley’s real personality shined brightest on the rugged and slow-paced New York Knicks.
The gentleman with the nice suits and made-men haircut let it be known winning was his sole mission, no matter what his surroundings were.
Riley is a proud man, rightfully so. The challenge Riley made to LeBron James in 2014 would prove costly. The hard-nosed, no-nonsense approach to recruiting James stands the time as the boldest decision from a front office.
In the 41-minute media confessional, he discussed the past four seasons of the Miami Heat “Heatles” era. Perhaps, it was in that moment, he lost LeBron and consequently, the annual championship relevancy, albeit in a valiant effort. Pride is a double-edged sword.
Jimmy Butler, the On-Court Extension of Pat Riley
Five years later and the Godfather Pat Riley finally secured another star. Although not on the same level as James nor Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler is a star-level figure. Miami wasn’t a team with ample cap space to throw at max-level players this summer. However, the case was similar in 2010, the year of the infamous “The Decision”. Riley is a man of conviction.
Jimmy Butler deal is complete with Heat — with Clippers added as a fourth-team in trade that also includes Philadelphia and Portland, league sources tell @ZachLowe_NBA and me.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 1, 2019
Butler’s demeanor is reminiscent of the yesteryear NBA player. Biting his tongue isn’t exactly an option, the standards he holds his teammates to passes the threshold of most players, and his overall play doesn’t scream “I played in the Splash Brothers era!”
Riley pulling off a sign-and-trade for Butler, although not a league-shaking transaction, is a sign the Godfather is ready to trust stars again. Heat fans can finally let out a sigh of relief, for there are no more Hassan Whiteside headaches, mediocre players aren’t the focus of a once star-studded starting lineup, and once again, a star is at the helm of the roster.
Riley Isn’t Done Yet
Yes, the acquisition of Butler is a positive roster addition in comparison to what the Heat gave its fans after James left. However, the current Heat roster is good enough for maybe sixth or seventh place in the Eastern Conference, which isn’t necessarily a relevant position in the league.
The Toronto Raptors 2019 championship, yet noble in certain aspects, is more an anomaly than a changing of the guard. Kawhi Leonard bolted from Toronto for his hometown Los Angeles Clippers with Paul George. Anthony Davis “That’s All Folks’d” his way out of New Orleans Pelicans locker room to play with James, and who knows what other team is cooking a plot to obtain another star player.
A recent rumor of another star on the move is steadily brewing. Credible reporters and writers seem to think Russell Westbrook is next on the trade market. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Westbrook and the Miami Heat are a consistent connection.
ESPN story on Russell Westbrook welcoming idea of Oklahoma City searching out a trade that would end his Thunder career: https://t.co/EJK30AbAl8
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 8, 2019
Regardless of the fit of the two polarizing players, it’s apparent Miami would benefit from a two-star roster. Riley, once again, is stretching his hands to keep the window open for his beloved Miami Heat. The potential of Westbrook and Butler on the same roster are indicative of Riley’s admirable conviction to compete, despite the flashing warning labels.
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