In the wake of his team going out in the first round of the NBA playoffs, Miami Heat president Pat Riley largely was all business in his season-ending media session last week, offering a cohesive breakdown of his team’s roster.
But in a relaxed moment, with questions more about his emotions than offseason management strategies, Riley opened up during an interview with media personality Dan Le Batard during a streaming event on YouTube.
Foremost, Riley, who turned 76 on March 20, stressed he has no plan but to move forward in the role he has held with the team since 1995.
“I don’t think you have to sort of rush yourself out of anything because that might be the narrative or the thought process of a lot of people who cover you,” he said. “So, at my particular age, I feel that I have a lot more left, a lot of energy, and I feel like I’ve got a sharp mind.
“I know, over 60 years, I’ve collected a lot of wisdom and a reservoir of knowledge of what it takes to win and what kind of players we want, and all of that stuff. So I’m not in any hurry to go anywhere else other than, right now, on vacation and then come back and try to win a championship for the Heat. That’s what we do.”
Riley’s comments came days after Danny Ainge stepped aside after a lengthy tenure as Boston Celtics general manager. While Riley and Ainge had sniped during their management tenures, Riley stressed that it mostly stemmed from a rivalry with the Celtics that dates to his tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I wish him the best,” said Riley, who once used use a particularly-harsh four-letter expletive in telling Ainge off amid a debate about former Heat forward LeBron James. “I have no hate in my heart, except for the Shamrock. But all of the people I competed against in Boston all those years, I wish Danny nothing but the best.
“He’s had 18 years up there. Believe me, I know how hard it is to do this stuff. So, he’s free of whatever it is he wants to get away from.”
Riley also addressed another matter of contentiousness, when asked about a report of Heat forward Jimmy Butler having prickly moments with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. That had Riley citing relationships of his own with many he has helped guide through his career, including the team’s championship trio of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
“Whatever rumors are out there about Jimmy Butler and anybody else who might have a problem with me or with Erik or with the team, it’s normal,” Riley said. “As long as you can teach me something, as long as, ‘Oh, I get it. I understand.’
“Look, throughout my career as a coach, there wasn’t one player on any team that I ever coached, a key player, that I didn’t have disagreements with, didn’t have yelling and screaming matches with, and whether it was Alonzo Mourning or Magic Johnson or James Worthy or Patrick Ewing of whoever, LeBron, Dwyane, Chris. That’s just the way it is.”
Riley said the Heat embrace such heat.
“And if it’s too nice and too quiet,” he said, “then you want to create something where there’s tension, otherwise you’re going to be apathetic and what you’re doing all the time.”