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Pat Riley challenges LeBron James, sticks up for Micky Arison

Jun 19, 2014, 12:58 PM EST

Pat Riley said he requires a week after a tough season-ending loss before he can speak coherently.

Four days after his Miami Heat lost in the NBA Finals, Riley addressed the media.

“Good morning, everybody,” Riley said. “You want to trend something? I’m pissed. OK? Get it out there.”

Pissed at LeBron James? If you want spin Riley’s comments that way, you easily could – though shouldn’t.

I don’t believe it’s coincidence reports have emerged in the last couple days LeBron wants the Heat to spend more. With an early-termination option giving him leverage, he’s challenging owner Micky Arison and Riley.

And Riley is firing right back.

“This stuff is hard,” Riley said. “And you’ve got to stay together if you got the guts. And you don’t find the first door and run out of it.

“We’ll find out what we’re made of here. It’s not about options. It’s not about free agency.

“There’s just looking around the room now and finding out who;’s going to stand up. This is time that you go home and take care of yourself and look at yourself and what are you going to do to come back and make the team better? Because we have a tremendous opportunity here for long-term success. But don’t think we’re not going to get beat again. So, just get a grip, everybody. That’s my message. That’s my message to the players.

“They’re hearing it right now. I’m sure they’ll hear it. We’ll make sure of it.

“You deal with it by doing what you have to do to make yourself better by taking accountability for yourself and your own actions and not laying it off on something else or somebody else.”

[RELATED: Clippers, Rockets to pursue LeBron if he becomes a free agent?]

Riley stuck up for Arison specifically, noting the owner’s commitment for keeping LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.

“He will do anything to get those guys to come back,” Riley said “There’s been a perception out there that I think has been construed in some way about him not wanting to pay the tax. That’s BS. He’s been paying the tax for three years.”

That last line is true. However, the issue is how much luxury tax Arison is willing to endure.

Though Riley characterized amnestying Mike Miller and trading a draft pick to dump Joel Anthony as moves to better position the Heat for next season – which is fair, because both players were under contract for 2014-15 – they also cut costs. And the timings of the moves leave little doubt that money was a factor.

The Heat could have used Miller on the court this season and then amnestied him this offseason while receiving the same future flexibility. They also could have waited to deal Anthony until this summer, when his contract would have held less remaining money, therefore requiring less of a sweetener to move, and again received the the same future flexibility.

Instead, Miami made both transactions earlier than necessary to reduce 2014-15 payroll. But the earlier, the more savings this season.

So, maybe Riley’s emotions were directed at LeBron. After all, Riley made clear he was addressing the players.

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But he also respectfully stuck up for LeBron’s right to exercise his contractually negotiated options. He said he wants to talk more with LeBron, Wade and Bosh and values their input. He emphasized their responsibility is to take best situation financially for themselves and families.

When LeBron left Cleveland, Dan Gilbert’s notorious letter showed a disgusting sense of entitlement. There was none of that from Riley.

“I love LeBron,” Riley said.

I don’t think Riley was challenging LeBron to overcome the Heat’s spending habits. I think he was challenging LeBron – and everyone else – to overcome a crushing Finals defeat.

Riley spent a lot of time on how often Duncan’s Spurs, Shaq’s and Kobe’s Lakers, Jordan’s Bulls, Larry’s Celtics and Magic’s and Kareem’s Lakers lost. It seems Riley can tolerate losing. He just can’t tolerate succumbing to it.

If anyone knows how to motivate and coax superstars, it’s Riley, who described his approach as “you don’t pander and you don’t punish.”

[RELATED: DeSean Jackson continues to troll LeBron James on Instagram]

In 2010, Riley famously flashed his championship rings to impress the big three. The players carried most agency in the super team’s creation, but Riley played a huge part – and he’ll again play a part in keeping it together.

“I don’t think we have to recruit Chris and LeBron and Dwyane again,” Riley said. “Four trips to the Finals and a great organization and two world championships – I’m not dropping championship rings on the table for those guys. They can drop their own.”

And if that’s not enough?

“Whatever it takes to keep them together, we’re ready for it,” Riley said.

At some point, Riley, LeBron and Arison must get on the same page about spending. As far as a will to win, Riley isn’t negotiating.

He’s demanding it.

Could that push LeBron from Miami? I guess it’s possible, but I’m betting Riley knows it won’t.

  1. seasickcecil - Jun 19, 2014 at 6:20 PM

    I think all the lard this guy puts on his head is starting to rot his brain. If the 3 and Haslem opt in he won’t have enough cap space to sign a fourth grader. And if somehow they do sign someone they’ll be repeater taxed into oblivion. Sorry grease head but I ain’t buying what you’re selling.

  2. naterich21 - Jun 19, 2014 at 6:21 PM

    He’s leaving in 2015 if Riley can’t reload in time

  3. gofinsgoheatfloria - Jun 19, 2014 at 9:03 PM

    “Pat Riley Challenges LeBron James”

    The article with that headline quotes Riley as saying:

    “There’s just looking around the room now and finding out who’s going to stand up. This is time that you go home and take care of yourself and look at yourself and what are you going to do to come back and make the team better? Because we have a tremendous opportunity here for long-term success.”

    LeBron’s Finals PER was 31.1. The headline is nonsense.

    • fpstratton - Jun 19, 2014 at 9:29 PM

      I have to agree with you. Sports fans and media are nuts these days: if you don’t win the championship, you’re worth nothing? Miami went to 4 straight finals and won back-to-back championships. If anyone thinks that’s easy, they’re smoking something real good. Yes, the Spurs demolished the Heat. The Spurs played UNBELIEVABLE basketball in the last three games. LeBron played very well in a losing cause. Miami is still the second best basketball team on the planet. Relax, everyone, have a nice summer, and let’s see what happens next year.

    • kinggw - Jun 19, 2014 at 9:34 PM

      The headline worked. It generated a bunch of traffic. Of course most of the folks in this blog took Riley’s comments out of context. Im betting most didn’t even read his entire statement. Some people are excited because they think there is a rift between James and management and that he is going to leave causing the Heat to become a cellar dweller.

      When this offseason is over and the Heat emerge improved and ready to take another run at a title, we’ll see what the people predicting the Heat’s demise have to say.

  4. erking1991 - Jun 19, 2014 at 9:56 PM

    So essentially he’s calling Lebron gutless since he didn’t stay together when he left Cleveland

    • jimmymarlinsfan - Jun 19, 2014 at 10:44 PM

      You have no idea how desperate people are to leave Cleveland are ya little guy?

    • antistratfordian - Jun 20, 2014 at 12:08 AM

      No, not at all. He would be calling him gutless for running from a team that just won 2 rings and went to 4 straight finals.

      Besides, it took a lot of guts to leave Cleveland. That was an enormous risk that guaranteed that he would be excoriated. Stars usually prefer the protection and buffer provided by the local media and fans of the city that drafted them rather than opening up their game to criticism from every single angle by leaving. If you leave and you don’t win in your new home… you can forget it… your legacy is done. LeBron could’ve stayed in Cleveland and remained ringless under that poor management and every Clevelander and some non-Clevelanders would’ve still defended his greatness to the hilt.

  5. mazblast - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:35 AM

    Riley bailed, or retired, or whatever, from the Lakers. He bailed on the Knicks. He knows (and aided and abetted) LeBron when he bailed on the Cavaliers (whether LBJ was right or wrong is not the issue here).

    Now he’s telling LeBron that bailing would be wrong.

    I guess Slick knows what he’s talking about when it comes to bailing, but exactly why should LeBron heed his warning? What gives Riley the moral high ground?

    • antistratfordian - Jun 23, 2014 at 11:07 PM

      Riley has been with the Heat for 19 years now. I think he’s proven his loyalty to the franchise, no?

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