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Winderman: Odd NBA executive vote mostly anti-Riley sour grapes

May 10, 2011, 2:46 PM EDT

Pat Riley Getty Images

So what does the NBA think of the notion of securing a big bag of money and throwing it in front of three of the game’s best players?

Apparently not much.

So despite landing LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh during last summer’s free-agency-free-for-all, Heat President Pat Riley received only a partial cut of the NBA Executive of the Year award when the balloting results were announced Tuesday.

Actually, Riley was gifted that piddling stake.

In the vote of one executive from each of the league’s 30 teams, Riley received 11 votes, as did Bulls General Manager Gar Forman.

Trouble was, Bulls Executive Vice President John Paxson finished third with three votes.

In essence, there were 14 votes for what the Bulls accomplished, 11 for the Heat’s haul.

First, let’s recap: The Bulls visited Cleveland in July to woo James. They then held multiple meetings with Wade and Bosh in Chicago.

Riley signed all three.

Chicago then settled for consolation prizes Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer.

Granted, the Bulls did finish ahead of the Heat in the Eastern Conference.

But it wasn’t because of Boozer, Korver or Brewer.

It was because they won the 2008 NBA Draft lottery over the Heat, getting Derrick Rose at No. 1, with the Heat settling for Michael “since-traded” Beasley at No. 2.

There is no debating the Bulls had arguably the league’s best player this season in Rose, who was named MVP.

And Tom Thibodeau accomplished as much as any coach, closing with the league’s best record on the way to the nod as Coach of the Year.

But exactly which of the 19 team executives that didn’t vote for Riley wouldn’t have taken his haul over any other?

Non-Riley Voter: “Yeah boss, I know we can sign LeBron, Wade and Bosh, but this Boozer guy sometimes plays defense, this Korver dude does one thing very well, and this Brewer fella can defend when he’s not hurt.”

Owner of team run by Non-Riley Voter: “You are an idiot.”

Or, of course, someone who got burned by Riley.

Hmm, the Bulls, Clippers, Cavaliers, Nets and Knicks all interviewed LeBron in Cleveland. (We figure it’s safe to say that if you work for Dan Gilbert, you don’t dare vote for Riley.)

That’s five nays.

The Raptors lost Bosh.

There’s six.

The Magic and Mavericks have had their feuds for years with the Heat.

Seven and eight.

And many would-be contenders saw their chances evaporate when Riley got his Big Three.

Nine, 10 11 . . . you get the point.

There is, of course, consolation for Riley.

Along with half an award . . . he also still has LeBron, Wade and Bosh, and possibly some championship hardware on the way.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for and covers the Heat and the NBA for theSouth Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at

  1. oumoonunit - May 10, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    Riley deserves a lot of credit for getting his players, but I think the votes against him have something to do with the big part Wade played in getting Lebron in. While it was not a done deal before free agency started, Wade was working to get the three together before and executives could talk to free agents. The Bulls front office built their team (yes with a #1 pick); Wade might have been more involved in bring his team together than Riley.

    • oumoonunit - May 10, 2011 at 2:58 PM

      *before executive


  2. cosanostra71 - May 10, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    I’m a huge Heat hater, but Riley deserved this most. The Bulls’ improvement was in much larger part due to Thibodeau emerging as an elite level head coach in this league. Then again, Forman did bring in Thibodeau, so I guess this was acknowledging that improving a team is more than just who you put on the floor.

  3. goforthanddie - May 10, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    Riley deserves jack squat. He had nothing to do w/ LeBitch and CryBaby coming to Miami, and look at the rest of the team he DID gather.

    • florida727 - May 10, 2011 at 3:53 PM

      I agree that Wade was as responsible as Riley for getting LeBum and Bosh to South Beach, so it diminishes Riley’s status as “Executive of The Year”, but in fairness to him regarding the rest of their roster, he had little money to work with. I think he actually did a pretty good job with the supporting cast considering his available resources. I’m from Chicago though, so obviously my biased vote goes to the Bulls’ Forman :)

      • goforthanddie - May 10, 2011 at 6:18 PM

        “in fairness to him regarding the rest of their roster, he had little money to work with.”
        And having little money to work with was whose fault?
        You have a starting 5 where, after the Threego, you can’t even get 10 points/game. And there’s no need to bring up the bench, since Miami doesn’t have one.
        Considering CryBaby has heavily underplayed his contract, his contract should’ve gone to multiple players who might be helpful every night (plus they’d still have 2 draft picks). The same can be said of LeBitch: he has earned his contract, yes, but I’m pretty sure Miami would have done just as well spending the money elsewhere and keeping their picks.
        Basically, Miami’s one muscle tear away from being less than good, and can’t even improve with the draft. They better win multiple titles with what they have, or Riley might end up swingin’.

      • borderline1988 - May 11, 2011 at 1:20 AM


        It’s astonishing that you can make this argument after yesterday’s win in Boston to put Miami up 3 games to 1.
        “Miami would have done just as well spending the money elsewhere and keeping their picks”?
        There are so many things about this statement that makes no sense, it’s hard to know where to start.
        1) Funny you mentioned ‘picks’ – The last time Miami had a top pick, it turned out to be Michael Beasley. Lebron James is a once in a generation talent. The chances are practically zero that the Heat can draft any combination of players that will give them that type of talent.
        2) Last year, Miami was a weak Eastern Conference playoff team that had no chance of beating the Celtics. Now they are legitimate championship contenders, probably one of only 4 teams left. And they are looking better with each passing game.

        3) Let’s compare to the 2008 Celtics. Danny Ainge seemingly traded away the future for Garnett and Allen. It resulted in an immediate championship, and subsequent years of championship contention. Clearly, trading away the future isnt the worst idea. And remember, those Celtics are old. The Heat players are still in their middling 20’s and barring major injury, have 8+ prime years to go.

      • southbeachtalent - May 11, 2011 at 10:51 AM

        And who kept Wade here?? Ah why try to make sense of this lets just blindly hate, seems to be the popular thing these days. Yea Riley sucks so does Wade and don’t even mention LeBron… he’s horrible. Oh and let’s not forget Bosch another crummy player. I don’t even know how we are a game away from the Eastern Conf Finals??

    • southbeachtalent - May 10, 2011 at 4:38 PM

      another scorned fan…

      or is it New York?
      maybe New Jersey??

      Ahhh most likely Boston!

    • hnirobert3 - May 10, 2011 at 5:02 PM

      This is going to be the worse the Heat are going to be. They’ll get the MLE starting next year. They’ll be able to afford someone like Sam Dalembert next year.

  4. ohkhan - May 10, 2011 at 3:50 PM

    Riley didn’t do anything other than sign 3 guys who wanted to play together in south beach. this decision was made by wade james and bosh, riley just had to write up the contracts and trade away all of his assets for nothing in order to create cap room.

  5. momo988 - May 10, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    Maybe it has to do with this:

    Cavs in 2010 – 61 wins
    Heat in 2011 – 58 wins

    So surrounding Lebron with superior talent to what he had in Cleveland led to 3 fewer wins. Not to mention there’s probably more respect given to a somewhat more organic team building method.

    • torotrigger - May 10, 2011 at 4:31 PM

      tip of the hat to both gents – well done

    • southbeachtalent - May 10, 2011 at 4:39 PM

      Or that the regular season is a joke (see Spurs)

      Lets see how far the Heat go in the post season compared to the Cavs…

    • LPad - May 10, 2011 at 4:45 PM

      well, the superior talent is probably going to be Boston, I don’t recall the Cavs beating Boston. As far as the “organic team building method,” I remember the Cavs taking the same approach, but bringing in lesser players. For example, Shaq, Mo Williams, Jamison, D. West, etc.

      • momo988 - May 10, 2011 at 5:42 PM

        I was talking about the Bulls having built a team more organically. The Bulls did it the hard way. Tanking and having Wade recruit for you is much easier than identifying a good coach, drafting and filling out a roster. How’s that Mike Miller signing working out?

  6. mturk21 - May 10, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    “There is no debating the Bulls had arguably the league’s best player this season in Rose….”

    “No debating… arguably…” ?? Ira, pick one or the other!

  7. boondocksaint224 - May 11, 2011 at 1:29 AM

    I can’t believe that Riley gets a share of the executive of the year award for making cap room so that LeBron, Wade and Bosh could play together and still pull in a massive salary. And in doing so, he gave away the #2 overall pick from just two years prior for a 2nd round draft pick (by the way, Beasley averaged 19/6/2 this season). After pulling that off, his genius strategy for putting the rest of the team together was “Let’s see what ring-hungry veterans come ambling out of the woodwork to ride the coattails of three all stars.”

    On the other hand, Forman hired Tom Thibodeau, the defensive mastermind who turned the Bulls into the best rated defense in the NBA en route to winning coach of the year in his first season as a coach, signed Boozer, the low post threat that the Bulls have been looking for to legitimize their offense for over a decade now, and signed two of the Bulls’ most important role players in Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer.

    Seems to me like Riley just lucked out when Bosh, LeBron and Wade picked Miami for their home, while Forman actually made good decisions and put in hard work.

    • southbeachtalent - May 11, 2011 at 10:45 AM

      Riley got lucky?? When will it end…

      Boozer SUCKS buddy watch a game. He has all but dissappeared in the play-offs.

      If Rose plays well Bulls win

      If Rose plays bad Bulls lose

      Boozer has not changed the outcome of a single game, hell the Bulls have struggled against the Pacers and now the Hawks! Yea killer defense.. Give me a break.

  8. Colin Zvosec - May 11, 2011 at 2:11 AM

    Its executive of the year? Who cares?

  9. mk2323 - May 11, 2011 at 2:13 AM

    I love all you bum LeBron haters. I hope you enjoy him hoisting the O’Brien trophy. Lmao!!!

  10. helinhater - May 11, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    Ira – I know you’re a Heat apologist but come on…you missed the entire point of the vote.

    First of all, to assume it’s sour grapes is pretty petty on your part. Should the NBA just hand every award to Miami because what they did was revolutionary?

    Secondly, to somehow make it about Riley vs Chicago for those FAs is a joke. We all know Bron wanted to be courted and DRose had no interest in sharing the load to the point he’d beg for LBJ’s presence. Wade never intended to come home. Bosh sold everyone a false bill of goods.

    The reality is one front office made a giant move…and one made small moves that resulted in a complete team…

    In the end, one ended up better than the other.

    This isn’t difficult to break down, chief. But thanks for continuing to try and suck up to the Heat.

    When you go big, you better come big. The Heat held a championship celebration before the season and while they look great, they still finished behind Chicago.

    Sometimes the best moves you make are the ones you don’t make.

  11. southbeachtalent - May 11, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    So let me understand this..

    Riley signs all three of the most wanted free-agents at a DISCOUNT. Gets them this far in the playoffs, changed the NBA, had other teams follow or atleast try (Knicks), while Gar Forman had the little white lotto balls bounce his way and has Rose fall on his lap, signs Boozer (under-performing) and there performance is equal??

    I must be missing something??? Oh yeah the haters and the scorned are spreading like wild fire!!!


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