Pat Riley Talks LeBron, Butler, Ainge, His Own Future

Making an appearance on Dan Le Batard’s’s ‘Le Batard and Friends’ stream on Friday (video link), Heat president Pat Riley addressed a handful of topics, including his own future and Jimmy Butler‘s relationship with Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra and the rest of the coaching staff.

Perhaps most interestingly, Riley spoke about former Heat star LeBron James, addressing whether he’d continue to leave a “key under the doormat” for James in the event that the four-time MVP wanted to return to Miami. Riley acknowledged that such a scenario is unlikely and joked that the key would be “rusted” by now, but said he’d welcome back the superstar forward who helped lead the franchise to four straight NBA Finals from 2011-14.

“LeBron, look, he’s one of the greatest of all time, and for four years down here, if we want to go back and remember what those four years were like, it was four years in the Finals, four years of excitement, two world championships… It was the best time for the Heat,” Riley said, per Peter Botte of The New York Post. “So I wish him nothing but the best, and if he ever wanted to come back, I’ll put a new shiny key under the mat.”

Executives around the NBA have received fines for violating the league’s anti-tampering policy for comments similar to Riley’s, so it’s reasonable to assume commissioner Adam Silver will take a long look at Riley’s statement. After discussing LeBron, Riley noted that those comments “will just get me fined,” as Botte relays.

With the help of Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel, here are a few of other noteworthy tidbits from the longtime Heat president of basketball operations:

On a report that there were some “testy moments” between Jimmy Butler and the Heat’s coaching staff this season:

“It’s normal. … Look, throughout my career as a coach, there wasn’t one player on any team that I ever coached, a key player, that I didn’t have disagreements with, didn’t have yelling and screaming matches with, and whether it was Alonzo Mourning or Magic Johnson or James Worthy or Patrick Ewing or whoever, LeBron, Dwyane, Chris. That’s just the way it is. And if it’s too nice and too quiet, then you want to create something where there’s tension. Otherwise, you’re going to be apathetic at what you’re doing all the time.”

On Danny Ainge stepping down from his role as Celtics’ president of basketball operations:

“I wish him the best. I have no hate in my heart, except for the Shamrock. But all of the people I competed against in Boston all those years, I wish Danny nothing but the best. He’s had 18 years up there. Believe me, I know how hard it is to do this stuff. So, he’s free of whatever it is he wants to get away from.”

On whether Riley would’ve considered retiring if the Heat had won the Finals in 2020:

“No… At my particular age, I feel that I have a lot more left, a lot of energy, and I feel like I’ve got a sharp mind. I know, over 60 years, I’ve collected a lot of wisdom and a reservoir of knowledge about what it takes to win and what kind of players we want, and all of that stuff. So I’m not in any hurry to go anywhere else other than, right now, on vacation and then come back and try to win a championship for the Heat. That’s what we do.”

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