Pat Riley told reporters on Saturday he was “floored” by Dwyane Wade’s decision to leave the Heat, and that he feels “great regret” he didn’t do more (or anything for that matter) to convince Wade to stay.
There’s no doubt Riley’s goal while addressing the media was to hoodwink them into painting an apocryphal picture that Riley was stunned by Wade’s decision and that he was truly yearning for Wade not to leave. Riley even used a deft analogy saying he should have gotten in a canoe and paddled to the Mediterranean if that’s what was required for him to do. Please.
The result of Riley’s press conference was the media writing stories about how Riley wished he would have done more, which is exactly what he wanted to have happen. But I’m not buying it.
For my money, Riley is the third greatest NBA mind of all time. No. 1 would have to be Red Auerbach who coached the Celtics to nine championships, and won seven more as an executive for the team, No. 2 on my list is Phil Jackson who’s totaled 13 titles in his career, two as a player with the Knicks, six as a coach of the Bulls and five as coach of the Lakers. No. 3 for me is Pat Riley who’s won nine championships in the NBA, one as a player for the Lakers in 1972, one as an assistant coach on the 1980 Lakers, four as head coach of the Lakers in the 1980s, and three with the Miami Heat.
The moral of the story here is Pat Riley knew the whole offseason how he wanted to handle contract negotiations with Dwyane Wade, and reports said he didn’t call Wade once throughout the entire process.
If Pat Riley really wanted Dwyane Wade back on the Heat, he would have had Dwyane Wade back on the Heat. You don’t have a gaudy resume that includes nine NBA championships by not getting what you want.
Not to mention the fact that another aspect of Riley’s greatness in the NBA is how scintillating he is at manipulating the media, which is exactly what he accomplished when he said he wished he would have done more to not let Wade depart.
Another prime example of Riley manipulating the media, according to Phil Jackson’s book “Eleven Rings,” was when Riley made comments prior to a 1993 playoff series against the Bulls while he was coaching the Knicks that if the Knicks were going to have a chance to win, Riley said the referees couldn’t get so enamored with Michael Jordan and should call a fair game.
Riley was well aware the Bulls were in the midst of winning back-to-back titles and with MJ at his peak, his only hope for the Knicks to win was if the officiating swung heavily in New York’s favor.
Well, after four games, the series was tied at two, causing Phil Jackson, who was the coach of the Bulls at the time, to lash out at the officials to the media saying NBA executives on fifth avenue were licking their chops at the fact the Knicks were making their playoff series with the Bulls competitive and that everyone would be thrilled to see the series go seven games.
The New York media did what the New York media does by writing “Phil the Whiner” headlines, and Riley responded by saying Jackson’s comments were an insult to the Knicks and all the hard work they had put in to be tied with the Bulls after four games.
The Bulls would go on to win the series, but it was that reaction from Jackson that was Riley’s efficacy when he made his comments about the officiating. Manipulation… successful.
His comments about Dwyane Wade’s departure were no different. In Riley’s mind, he knew he didn’t want to pony up the necessary dollars Wade was seeking, so he didn’t offer Wade what he was wanted so he left, but Riley didn’t want the media writing that so he orchestrated a spiel about how we wished he would have done more.
Riley can tell the media whatever he desires, but just know what Pat Riley wants, Pat Riley gets, and he didn’t want Dwyane Wade back on the Heat.