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June 19, 2014

An entertaining 55 minutes: Everything notable Pat Riley had to say in Thursday news conference

A quick posting of what Pat Riley had to say during his season-ending 55-minute news conference (please excuse any typos for the moment):

### On whether he expects to keep the Big Three: “I’m an Irish guy that believes in big dreams. I’m optimistic. Until it’s proven different, I have a level of optimism there isn’t a better place for players to be than Miami. They have invested heavily [in this].”       

### Riley began his news conference with a sermon: “We need to have perspective about things. Everybody needs to get a grip, media, Heat players, organization, all of our players. All of our fans have to get a grip on greatness and on teams. I’ve been here for 45 years in the NBA. I’ve witnessed dynasties and great teams. The 80s Lakers five championships in 12 years. Seven times they didn’t win. You’ve got to deal with it.

“Celtics – 12 years together in the 1980s, 3 wins, 9 losses. The Chicago Bulls 11 times – in 11 years, 6 titles. That’s five times Michael Jordan, Horace and Scottie lost. Kobe’s Lakers won five, lost 12 times. Spurs in 17 years won five titles. Lost 12 times.

### Then Riley delivered this message, which he said he will share with his players: “This stuff is hard. You’ve got to stay together if you’ve got the guts. You don’t find the first door and run out of it. This is four years into this era. Four Finals. It’s only been done three other years before and two championships, from day one to the end it was like a Broadway show that sort of run out of steam. We need to retool. We don’t need to rebuild. And that’s what we’re going to do. I’ve been a leader and decision maker and that’s been my level of expertise. I will do what I can to retool the team. Everyone get a grip. It’s been a great run.

“That cements a forever bond is going through what we went through this year and staying the course. I’ve been through that experience. 1982, when we beat Philadelphia, they came back the next year and got us.

“We’re going to find out what we’re made of here. It’s not about options or free agency. It’s about what we have built over four years here. Losing is just as much a part of it as winning is. If you’re a team you deal with it.

“There is no hugging, no high fiving. It’s looking around the room and seeing who’s going to stand up. What are you going to do to come back and make the team better? We have a long-term opportunity for long-term success.

“That’s my message to players. They’re hearing it right now. Take accountability to your own actions and not lat it off on somebody else.

“I had 15 exit meetings the other day and you learn a lot in exit meetings with players after you win. I had kisses all over my face when we won. Yesterday was just a good handshake."

### On LeBron not committing yet: “It’s a present day mentality of all players in the league. They have the inalienable right when they have options in the contract, they have the right to pursue those options. I don’t take anything away from what LeBron has to say. He has the right to do whatever he wants to do --- He said, ‘Give me a week before I can be coherent with my thoughts.' I’m confident we have an organization that’s been strong.’

“We have great coaching, great leadership. I didn’t come down here 19 years ago for a quick trip to South Beach to get a suntan and I don’t think they did either. All those guys who have come here got exactly what they wanted --- the best competition on the biggest stage. We won two of the last three.”

### On Wade: "I would be very surprised if he was anywhere else but a Heat uniform next season. Dwyane is a champion, a Miami Heat for life. He is examined more than anyone else. It really is time for everyone to take heed of the message sent to us by the Spurs. They went home and looked at themselves. We’re judged a lot more harsher [than the Spurs]. You can criticize him on his performance. But he isn’t a what have you done for me lately guy or a Johnny do nothing! That’s an insult for a guy since 2003 who has made magic for us.

"Does he have to reinvent himself? Absolutely. Does Erik have to reinvent himself a little bit? Yes he does. It’s going to take execution and coming back with a great resolve.”

### “We have a lot of room for flexibility depending on what happens…I don’t feel any pressure at all. I don’t think we need to recruit Chris and LeBron and Dwyane again. Four trips to the Finals, two world championships. I’m not dropping championship rings on the table for those guys. They can drop their own. We will have good conversations with them on what we need to do to improve.”

### Would owner Micky Arison pay the mid-level exception and thus increase his luxury tax bill? “He will do anything to get those guys to come back. There has been a perception he doesn’t want to pay the tax. That’s BS. He's never asking anyone to take a cut to avoid paying the tax."

"That’s a voluntary thing from the player. We are not asking them to do that. Micky will do whatever he has to do to keep this team together."

Riley said it's not their responsibility to take pay cuts: "Their responsibility is for them to take the best deal they can take from a monetary standpoint.”

### Riley said: “We have two young players we like in James Ennis and Justin Hamilton. The team has to be layered with some young guys. We have high hopes [on Ennis].”

### On why Mike Miller was amnestied: “We had extreme duplication at Mike Miller’s position. The prime motivation was to be in a better position this year. We wanted flexibility. We all love Mike.”

### If his Big three all leave: “Worst case, we could have most room in the history of the NBA. I’m not planning on that.”

### On Chris Andersen: “Chris had one of the best seasons he ever had until he suffered an incredibly painful injury vs. Indiana. That might have had an impact. He also started to get game planned. Teams started to put bodies on him, wouldn’t let him roll to the rim and catch and finish. They looked at Chris like he was a star and somebody we have to neutralize.”

### Riley said Ray Allen did not give him an idea if he wants to retire but will “be in touch…. We probably asked a little bit too much of him.”

### “The four years we had with LeBron we hope turns into another 8 or 10. All three of them have opt outs. They created the flexibility. They will think about. We’re not walking around on eggshells anymore and not talking about it. We need to talk about it now.

“I love LeBron. He knows how we feel about him. You need to give him time to get away. I sent an email to everybody after the game. This storm will pass. There are a lot of broken pieces on the ground and we will leave them there.”

### What would he prefer the Big Three do as far as opt outs? “Whatever they want to do. However we can keep those guys together, Bird McHale Parish together, Worthy, Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, Duncan, Ginobili, Parker together. All those guys stayed together and in their worst moments, they allowed management to re-tool."

### Can the Heat add a fourth star? "That’s a pipe dream but everybody thought 2010 was a pipe dream, too. I don’t harbor that thought. That’s not where we are headed. That’s not what we’re thinking about."

Would Riley ask players to take a pay cut? Riley said: “I’m not going to get down on my knees. I wouldn’t do that to a player.”

### On Wade: “What does he have to do mentally and spiritually to get him to another level at that age of 32. He does have pain but he doesn't have the debilitating injury that could end his career. Is there something that would allow him to become physically better? He’s too smart, too good, too talented to not play a major role for years to come.”

Wade coming off the bench “has not been discussed. We would probably have to get in a room with boxing gloves to have that discussion, which I would not want to do."

### RIley said "One of the things that was a common thread that came out of most of the meetings" with players was this: "Mentally exhausted, mentally fatigued. I understand that. I don’t accept it. If you go to the Finals four years in a row, maybe they didn’t know how to prepare themselves for 4 years in a row in the Finals.

"If that’s something of an excuse or you use that as a crutch, then that’s what it takes --- a real special team and it takes a special mentality to be able to do that and also win a championship. If players are saying this was a tough year and grind every day and every night, well welcome to the NBA and the world of world championship basketball. They should have a discussion with Bill Russell about winning eight straight championships. I saw that in the team. I saw the mental fatigue. I thought we were hitting stride when we beat Indiana in Game 6. When we had two games in San Antonio. I said we’re in a good place. And then we ran into a buzzsaw.

### On Greg Oden: “We talked about it and we know him physically better than anybody else would. I don’t know what’s going to happen with Greg. Next year we would raise protocol on him. You don’t want to walk away from that kind of a talent.” He said the plan was for Oden to play eight minutes a game until he suffered a "severe" back injury in March.

### On Spoelstra: “Take stock in what happened this year, take stock in the last four years. Take stock in your offense. Take stock in your defense. We were a top five defensive team. He comes from a defensive background. We were down in the middle of the pack most of the season. History shows you anybody down that low very rarely wins a championship. You've got to have a dynamic defense first that rebounds the basketball and you've got to have a dynamic offense in today's game. Erik is a student. He will go to work on this and study it. He’s got somebody he can talk to that knows something about coaching. He will reinvent himself in some way, shape or form to help this team become better.”

### On free agent Mario Chalmers: "We all have our days. Mario, God bless him, we don’t beat OKC [without him]. We have great respect for Mario. He had a tough, rough Finals. A lot of players have had tough, rough Finals. It’s reason for him to get motivated and better. He’s six years in the program. He’s a starting point guard on four consecutive Finals teams. He’s going to have to take stock in what happened and why it happened and study it and come back better."

### He said his message (expressed at the top of this post) "will get back" to players. "You leave them alone for 10 days. You give them time to get those thoughts of their minds of why they were inept? Why they didn’t get it done? They’ll get the message over the course of the summer."

### What does this team need? “All of a sudden, people say we need to improve at every position. We need to get our core back. We need to organically grow from within. The Spurs made one move --- they got Marco Bellinelli. It was Patty Mills from within their organization. It was Boris Diaw from within their organization. It was Manu Ginobili being better. It was Kawhi Leonard -- the bloom is off the rose."

### He said a player signed to the mid-level "better be able to play and prove he can play and is a starter. The players we decided on were in their prime and slipped out of their prime. Ray was off the charts. I still prefer the in-his-prime veteran who simply wants to move, come here and win a championship and have a great impact on the team. We would love to have players that are young and would grow into major roles.”

### He said every member of the Big Three doesn’t need to be at the same salary.

### On his relationship with LeBron: “I’m an arms distance guy. It’s a texting relationship, a short meeting in the hallway or at practice. I don’t bring him in for long dissertations. He would probably yawn on me in five minutes or 10. He knows I love him. He knows I respect him. [As a team president], you don’t pander and you don’t punish. There’s a fine line in between. Players today are different in how they think and how they think. I’ve always felt I have a great relationship with LeBron. He was restless [in our meeting]. He wanted to get out of town with his family and decompress.” 

### He said LeBron's wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. LeBron and his wife have two sons.