Thursday 30th May 2024,
The Hoop Doctors

Did Pat Riley Throw Shade at LeBron James?

Getty Images

Getty Images

It’s like they always say: People with slicked back, Goodfellas-looking hair never forget.

Miami Heat president Pat Riley addressed the media on Monday, during which time he, in typical Riles fashion, was candid, dropping loaded one-liners like he has a contractual quota to meet.

One such quip caught the attention of just about everyone, because it could have been directed at LeBron James, who spurned sunny Miami for the Cleveland Cavaliers after making four straight NBA Finals appearances and winning two championships.

Here’s the low down, per the South Florida Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman:

Riley, for his part, wouldn’t admit to taking veiled swipes at LeBron:

Perhaps there’s something here. Or maybe we’re overreacting. Maybe Riley is just pissed off that he’s getting spam text messages laced with emojis from companies who are actually trying to get him to invest in a company that manufactures super-duper-hold hair gel.

Still, there’s clearly something to the fractured relationship between LeBron and the Heat organization. LeBron even admitted that it was weird seeing Riley and others last summer at Dwyane Wade’s wedding. And how could it not be? He burned the Heat. Left them for dead. (As in the lottery.) No matter what they did, no matter how impressive they looked on paper at any given point this season, they just couldn’t do enough to secure a playoff berth and prove that they weren’t thoroughly and wholly rattled by LeBron’s departure.

Surely his exit must sting even more in the aftermath of how the campaign went down. Chris Bosh missed the tail end of the season with blood clots on his lungs, Luol Deng was banged up as usual, Hassan Whiteside’s emergence couldn’t vault the Heat into the East’s postseason bubble, Goran Dragic’s arrival failed to do the same, and Wade is now another year older, still injury-prone, with more miles on his treads and one fewer season left in him.

Things have never been more complicated in Miami. Do the Heat bring back Deng? Will Dragic re-sign? Is Whiteside for real? Will Bosh be fine? How much star-ish basketball does Wade have left in him?

Some of these questions—most notably those pertaining to Bosh and Wade—would still exist if LeBron was in town. But they wouldn’t mean as much. He’s still a player that transcends adversity and obstacles. He transcends everything.

For four years, the Heat enjoyed his company. And even leading into his free-agent decision, it came down to them and the Cavs. Loyalty to a cause bigger than basketball ultimately won out, paving the way for LeBron to return to Cleveland, respectfully, yet still in an abrupt way that left the Heat worse for wear, with no real, ironclad direction to follow.

And for that, Riley could hold a grudge.

Or, again, he could just be sick and tired of you emailing and texting him emojis.

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