Yesterday, Pat Riley, president of the Miami Heat surprised the NBA nation by standing up for the embattled LeBron James. James has taken much of the heat for the recent firing of former Cleveland Cavalier’s head-coach David Blatt.
Riley vehemently denied Miami Heat’ minority owner Ranaan Katz claim this week that James tried to get Heat coach Erik Spoelstra fired during his days playing in Miami.
“Nothing like that ever transpired, nothing,” Riley said, via the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “LeBron, unfairly to him, had to deal with [the reports]. … It’s somebody who has low power that ran his mouth.”
Riles comment in support of James may appear on the surface to be a benign statement, however, Riley, often two steps ahead of his competition in terms of vision, possibly is in the early planning stages to woo back the former Miami Heat star.
Riley’s defense of James seems ironic considering his past reference to James, when he wryly said last year that the summer will be better for Miami because there are “no more smiling faces with hidden agendas.” It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out who in fact Riley was referring to, and it was not Michael Beaseley.
Now the landscape has abruptly changed for James. Riley sees that life is not so rosy for James in Cleveland. His supporting cast can not compare with the arsenal of weapons Riley employed for him while he spent four glorious years in South Beach garnering two NBA rings. Perhaps Riley sees the lane open for LeBron James Miami Heat 2.0.
And James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love hardly qualify as “The Big Three.” The former Heat stud surely misses hanging out with BFF Dwayne Wade.
As far as front offices are concerned Riley is in another league compared to Cav’s general manager David Griffin, who may be looking at another rebuild in 2017 unless Cleveland pulls a 180 and finds a way to dethrone the mighty Golden State Warriors.
Cleveland is still the prohibitive favorite to reach the NBA finals this season, but defeating Golden State, their likely foe does not appear to be in the cards and getting swept by Stephen Curry’s crew is a reality.
The case for James’ return to the Magic City would match his Trump-like flair for grabbing the center stage despite weathering the controversy that follows- remember, “I am taking my talents to South Beach.”
Contractually speaking, James has wisely structured his deal with the Cavs to allow him to leave Cleveland after this season as his two-year contract comes to an end.
If one applies the plus minus formula, there’s a downside for James to rejoin the Heat. Both Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh are two years older and the likelihood of the team retaining the soon to be double-digit millionaire Hassan Whiteside is already tenuous even without James’ soon-to-be exorbitant contract on the books.
So leaving Cleveland to play for an aging Miami Heat team that does not appear to have the horses to outlast the Warriors is not only risky, but potentially a devastating step back for james, whose NBA championship legacy hangs in the balance.
It’s too early to start manufacturing LeBron James Miami Heat jerseys. A healthier Cleveland team may turn things around and surprise all the naysayers by winning a NBA championship. However, if anyone can pull off the impossible by extricating James from his life-long home in Ohio – it is Pat Riley.