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Pat Riley On Heat’s Title Chances, Wade, Arison

Rumors surrounding Dwyane Wade this spring made it seem as though another piece to Miami’s LeBron James era stood a decent chance to disappear this summer, but Wade instead re-signed for another year at $20MM, and trade deadline acquisition Goran Dragic committed for the long-term, as expected. Those deals, plus the arrival of No. 10 overall pick Justise Winslow and free agent signees like Amar’e Stoudemire and Gerald Green have team president Pat Riley enthusiastic about the Heat’s chances this season, though he admitted to Dan Le Batard and Jon Weiner of ESPN Radio today that he’d be high on his team no matter the circumstances. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald transcribed that and more from Riley’s radio appearance today. The entire transcript is worth a read, especially for Heat fans, for its insight on what keeps the 70-year-old executive from retiring to his house in Malibu and the way his image affected his teams when he was coaching. We’ll hit the highlights here:

On his expectations for this season:

“I think this team has all of the elements of a championship team. Whether or not you can ever win a championship will depend on a number of factors. I can list them and you can list them. It’s going to come down to this, health, … performance and this guy and that guy. It’s going to come down to can you make shots?”

On whether he was truly worried that Wade would leave:

“Yeah, I had some concern because we have lost players before. … There was a time I said anything is possible because of what had happened with LeBron. The landscape of the NBA now and player mentalities sometimes get into the way of the priorities that you have to face as a player and as also an organization. It really is more than ever a big — big, capital letters — business now. The business has grown tentacles so far from the court … that anything is possible. Deep down in my gut, Dwyane is a lifer here and I felt he and [owner] Micky [Arison] and [CEO] Nick [Arison] would work it out. When you deal with a player like Dwyane at this stage in his career, it’s just not eyeball to eyeball with me and Henry Thomas, his agent. It got a lot more personal in a good way because the owner got involved in it because that’s how much we care about Dwyane.”

On his relationship with Micky Arison:

“Being here for 20 years. I feel blessed. I really do. I feel blessed to be in one city with great people I’ve been with for a long time, a great owner in Micky, his wife, Madeleine. We’ve become more than just boss and employee. We’ve become very good friends. It’s like all your firsts go away. Your first love goes away, your first girlfriend, your first baby. … And then all of a sudden you have to create new firsts. We’ve had a lot of firsts here and they’re gone and now we have to create new one. … Our dream, or my dream, of what we put together in 2010 had not shattered but had changed.”

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