Pat Riley finally saw his group come together. It simply took until the second time through the playoffs for the Miami Heat to find themselves after bringing together the Big Three.
Riley, Miami’s team president, said he’s continually surprised that the Heat have taken such national criticism, and that it placed a great weight on the squad. He’s now excited to see what LeBron James and the team can do without having to carry that burden.
Pat Riley joined 790 The Ticket in Miami with The Dan LeBatard Show to discuss celebrating the victory, the most difficult part of the last two years, the most surprising thing that developed during that span, why he got emotional with LeBron James after the Heat won the championship and his greatest pride in bringing this group together.
What has the celebration been like?:
“I think the last great time, as far as the celebration or feeling good about yourself was when Micky and I … were at Club Bamboo last Saturday night. I think that was about it. We had a good time and I went home, went to bed, got up and started getting ready for the draft. … They pushed this thing so close to the draft because of the lockout. Normally you’d have at least a couple of weeks, if you’d won a title, before the draft, but the draft was coming up a week later, so we had to get involved in that.”
What’s been the most difficult part of the last two years?:
“The most difficult part for me, personally, was just sort of waiting for the team to be who they are. I always thought that they were good enough to win, that we had enough pieces. … We had shooters, we had defenders, we had rebounders. We had everything I felt we needed. It was just for them to find themselves and really find themselves as a team. I believe they found themselves during the course of the playoffs. They didn’t find themselves during the regular season. … They had met the abyss, and when they were down there staring at it and it was their character that came through.”
What has been the biggest surprise for you since 2010?:
“The unexpected was the absolute national, I think, disdain. That was surprising. I was on a team that people loved and hated and coached it in L.A. I coached against a number of teams, like the Celtics and Detroit that there was the same kind of national disdain. But in today’s modern age, when you put together a team like this with these kinds of players who are really good people — LeBron and Chris and Dwyane, these are good people. … I think that’s the one unexpected and I think it was such a heavy weight on our guys … that it really created a tremendous amount of angst.”
Did this championship mean any more than the others you’ve won?:
“For Micky and I, it was splendiferous. He may name one of his new ships Splendiforous. It was absolutely special for us. We’ve been together for seven years, and for the organization, when you stop and think about what he’s done … he always wants to win and he’s always allowed us to try and put the best team out on the court. In 2010, when we put these guys together, we were tickled. … When we were highly criticized for it, it was hard on us because we thought we had presented something that was going to really be accepted, was going to be fun and even though it was going to be competitive, in the end it was going to win.”
Why did you get so emotional with LeBron in the locker room?:
“I just know what kind of pain he really went through. LeBron is a man’s man. He’s got the exterior, this armor that he has put up to take all the hits that he’s taken and to take them in a way where it doesn’t look like it bothers him where he answers the questions in a way that he should — in a professional manner. … I saw it. I saw what Magic Johnson, in 1984, when we had lost a seven-game series against the Boston Celtics and I walked into the shower … and there he was sitting on the shower floor just sobbing with water running down over him. … I was just so happy for [LeBron]. I was so happy that he doesn’t have to carry that burden anymore.”
What’s your greatest pride as the architect of all of this?:
“I don’t feel that kind of thump-your-chest pride in it. It’s just a deep sense of satisfaction. I do have great pride in the organization and I have great pride that some of the decisions that Micky and I … and everyone’s involved in making decisions to try to make this thing work, that it worked this year.”