The choice LeBron James made to rejoin the Cavaliers this summer “just crushed us,” Heat team president Pat Riley told Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick, but the Hall-of-Famer remains confident that he can build another championship team in Miami. He acquired quite possibly the best player dealt at the trade deadline, swinging a deal for Goran Dragic, but he did so having already learned of Chris Bosh‘s pulmonary blood clots that ended his season, as Riley revealed to Skolnick. Riley feels as though he was a better coach than he is an executive, but with his 70th birthday coming later this month, he made it clear that he has no desire to coach again, as Skolnick relays. Retirement from the front office crossed his mind while LeBron was still with the team, but it isn’t a consideration now, Riley told Skolnick, though he also indicated during the interview that he’ll probably retire right after he wins his next championship.
Skolnick’s entire piece provides a broad sketch of Riley, dating back to his humble NBA beginnings in the 1960s. It’s worth a full read, but we’ll pass along a few notable quotations from Riley about current-day Heat issues:
On his philosophy of attracting established stars:
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to be able to see what it takes. If you can get three of those kinds of players and fill it out with some other good guys, then you might be ahead of the curve. … So there are a lot of ways to skin a cat. For me, it’s not through the draft, because lottery picks are living a life of misery. That season is miserable. And if you do three or four years in a row to get lottery picks, then I’m in an insane asylum. And the fans will be, too. So who wants to do that?”
On LeBron’s departure:
“That was almost shocking to me that the players would allow that to happen. And I’m not just saying LeBron. I mean, the players, themselves, would allow them to get to a state where a guy would want to go home or whatever it is. So maybe I’m dealing with a contemporary attitude today of, ‘Well, I got four years here, and I think I’ll go up there for whatever reason I went.’ You know, the whole ‘home’ thing, I understand that. But what he had here, and what he had developed here, and what he could have developed over the next five or six years here, with the same team, could have been historic.”
On the Heat’s post-LeBron plans:
“Our plan was always to move to great as quick as we could, past good. And I think that was more disappointing than anything, once we made that deal, to see what happened to Chris, which was devastating to me just from a personal standpoint. For his health. But also for the team, it was another hit. That’s why it would be so great for this team, we’re in this race here, if somehow we could get into the playoffs and make something of it. But I do think we have enough, in that in any series with anybody in the East, with what’s going on in the East, that you never know. And I love that.”