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Pat Riley is not coming back, nor should he. So stop asking.

Mar 6, 2011, 9:29 AM EDT

Miami Heat Introduce LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade Getty Images

Yes, the Miami Heat have some problems.

They have the surging Chicago Bulls ready to pass them for second in the East if the Bulls defeat the Heat Sunday in Miami. They have struggled against the league’s better teams and were embarrassingly lapped by the Spurs a few nights back. They are 14-17 against teams over .500. Their end of game execution has been sad.

Pat Riley is not the answer. Erik Spoelstra is not the problem (or at least the serious one).  Spoelstra’s defensive game plan did not say, “don’t close out on Spurs three-point shooters.” Question his end-of-game lineups if you want, but Spoelstra draws up plays that are not simply isolations to close out games.

The Heat’s problem right now are on the players not executing the plans they are given.

Riley has insisted since training camp he is done coaching and will not return to the bench. People around the team have said it would take a direct order from owner Micky Arison, and that is highly unlikely.

The other rumbling is that Riley doesn’t want to return to the bench with this team because he has known what Heat fans are learning the hard way now — this team is not yet ready to win a title. Not this season. It lacks a real inside presence on defense. It has little end-of-game comfort level among its stars. Things that will change over time, especially as Riley tweaks the roster. But right now, with this roster, there are question marks.

Pat Riley cannot just wave his championship-ring covered hand over this squad and solve those problems.

Michael Wallace at ESPN’s Heat Index reminds us that Riley had two very tough seasons on the bench after that 2006 title run. Frustrating seasons where the players tuned him out. One where they won 15 games. Those memories are inside his head next to the Heat title run season and make him question coming back.

Riley the coach would be cathartic to fans, as Wallace notes, but not the answer.

Riley has the professional credentials and personal fearlessness to call LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh out in public. He would get frustrated after a loss, go in to the post-game press conference and name names. He’d call the players out on a lack of effort and execution. He’d be a hard a–.

And it wouldn’t change anything. Right now, this Heat team’s cracks are showing. It does not look ready. And if that is to change it will come from the players, not a change of coaches.

  1. mikeinthevine - Mar 6, 2011 at 10:09 AM

    Ain’t that a B**ch. Even with all of that talent around you LeQuit, you still won’t win a title. Maybe it’s you!

  2. polegojim - Mar 6, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    When you stack your first team with ridiculously paid prima-donna’s, what do you expect?

    Chemistry, hunger, good coaching, and good talent will go further than an all star line-up.

    Build a winner, don’t try to buy one.

  3. rodge1 - Mar 6, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    You have to “buy” free agents to help “build” a team…. brainiac

  4. everydayanalytics - Mar 6, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    I think Kurt’s assessment is accurate, and that “[the] Heat’s problem right now are on the players not executing the plans they are given.” The coach can bark out as many plays/assignments from the sideline as he wants, but if LeBron James and/or Dwyane Wade choose to ignore them and run their 1-man/2-man game, there’s nothing Spoelstra can really do. This is exactly what happened to Mike Brown in Cleveland. It was no secret in the local media that Brown’s offense was much more intricate than James dribble at the top of the key for 17 seconds while his 4 teammates watch, but late in the game when Brown would call plays, James would ignore them and choose to execute his one-on-four offense.

    It’s nice for Spoelstra that the media is now given this angle some play, and unfortunate for Brown that the offensive woes of the Cavaliers of years past were placed solely at his feet.

  5. goforthanddie - Mar 6, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    I’d almost like to see Riles come back. He built the pile o’ crap, he should have to deal with it. He probably is one of the few coaches LeEgo might listen to, but I doubt it.

  6. cordae - Mar 6, 2011 at 1:25 PM

    I swear you guys start to suck more and more at the “LeName” jokes lol.

    But honestly, I wouldnt mind seeing him come back, I used to joke about him kicking spoelstra to the curb, now I’m convinced he needs to. We’re passed the 60 game mark in the season and this guy still hasn’t found a way to get LeBron and Dwayne moving without the ball, as deadly as their pick and roll combos are, you cant go into the playoffs with one weapon of attack. Teams pick up on things, especially in a series of games. And dont say something stupid about one of them being pre-madonnas because the fact still remains that HE’S THE COACH. He can bench their ass at any given time. So they must not be that big of a pain in the ass like all of u are making them out to be..

  7. henryd3rd - Mar 6, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    LoBurn and the “Dying Embers” are right what they are suppose to be when they line up against other good teams in the NBA. They are a mediocre collection of stars that have not learned to play together. They remind me of that old 76er team of the 1980’s that had collection of superstars including Dr. J, George McGinnis, Darryl Dawkins, World Be Free, Andrew Toney, Bobby Jones, Doug Collins and a collection of other who didn’t win anything. They won it all only after trading was traded away some of the super egos and started playing as a team.

  8. progress2011 - Mar 6, 2011 at 4:33 PM

    O.K. I tried to support the minority coach ( Spoelstra ). But he should be fired IMMEDIATELY ! The Spurs ran the same pick and pop play all night. The PG would dribble to the top of the key, the center or power forward would pick the defender. The PG would just go stand in the corner, while his Miami defender rotated to the paint. Spoelstra NEVER made an adjustment !

    BANG…….WIDE OPEN 3 !


    I question if he has more than one play in his play book for offense or defense ! Essentially he is enjoying some success because he has the best player in the league on his team LBJ !

    IRONICALLY….I’m watching the Lakers play the Spurs, the Spurs haven’t gotten an open 3 yet. Its half time and the Lakers are up by 30 !!!!

    IT’S COACHING !!! Spoelstra with absolutely no resume and no PROVEN ability to coach in the NBA vs Phil Jackson !!! Phil figured out the Spurs pick and pop in 3 minutes of watching the film !

  9. passerby23 - Mar 6, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    I’m sorry but when you get out-executed the overwhelming majority of the time in close ball games, that’s coaching. When you can’t get guys to run a proper play when it counts OVER AND OVER AGAIN, I think coaching is a factor. Maybe guys don’t run the plays because they don’t buy into them? I like Spoelstra, he seems like a nice guy. Just doesn’t seem like he’s the guy for the job in Miami.

  10. omniusprime - Mar 7, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    While stocking his team with plenty of supposed talent maybe Riley should have thought about getting a real coach, not some dimwit like Spoelstra. Sorry but SpoiledSport Spoelstra isn’t a championship coach, he’s way too wet behind the ears for that. If Riley doesn’t replace Spolestra then the South Beach Crybabies won’t get far in the playoffs this year. Better luck next year South Beach Crybaby fans!

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