If anyone is qualified to rate the most important transaction in Miami Heat history, it’s Pat Riley. As team president, Riley has overseen everything the franchise has done since he accepted the position in 1995.
Riley has been responsible for dozens of moves each season, some large and some small, but there were two that shook the foundation of the NBA. In 2004, with the Lakers coming off a loss in the NBA Finals and the feud between Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant simmering out of control, Riley made a bold offer to bring the big man to Miami. He sent Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Brian Grant and two draft picks to Los Angeles in exchange for the most dominant force in the game at the time.
Six years later, Riley again reached out to the NBA’s top player. After seven seasons in Cleveland and on the heels of a bitter playoff loss, LeBron James was concerned about his place in NBA history. With some help from Dwyane Wade, Riley recruited James and fellow free agent Chris Bosh to come to South Beach and form a Big Three that made four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals and won two titles.
For the fanfare that surrounded Shaq and LeBron, neither stayed in Miami all that long. O’Neal helped the Heat win a title in 2006, but played just 40 games the following season and was traded to Phoenix in February of 2008. James and Bosh brought a rock-star aura to the Heat, who drew comparisons with the greatest teams in history, but LeBron decided to return to Cleveland with his two rings in 2014, leaving Miami to rebuild around Bosh and Wade.
That brings us to tonight’s question: Riley says the trade for O’Neal was the most important move the franchise ever made, ahead of LeBron and the formation of the Big Three. Do you agree? Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the topic. We look forward to what you have to say.