Pat Riley Says LeBron’s Departure Hurt But Has Him Fired Up


Miami Heat GM Pat Riley held his first press conference since LeBron James announced his decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Riley expressed the shock at LeBron’s decision but admitted that it has renewed the Heat’s competitive fire – I guess the finals lost wasn’t enough.

“I went into it with the notion he was coming back, so I was selling that to players,” Riley said Wednesday. “I let him know that. He never said, ‘Don’t do that.’ ”

“No doubt we lost a great player,” Riley said of losing James. “I don’t get hurt. … The hurt didn’t last long. We picked up the phone and went to work. Sometimes, things happen that you don’t like, but you have to move on. I feel really good about where we are right now at this moment. I feel we are up to the challenge and will be as competitive as anyone in the Eastern Conference.”

Riley also discussed the press conferene he gave in June following the Heat’s loss to the Spurs in the finals. Pat says contrary to what people believe, he wasn’t “calling out LeBron” that day when he spoke about the difficulty in winning NBA titles, and how it would make no sense to walk away at the first sign of adversity. Riley doesn’t believe the press conference upset LeBron:

Riley said Wednesday he was speaking out of frustration from an embarrassing performance in the Finals against the Spurs and did not direct those comments specifically at James. Riley denied that he had any indication or feeling at that time that James may have been thinking about leaving.

“My message that day was borne out of just getting beat against a great team by a total of 70 points in five games,” Riley said. “We got our (expletives) handed to us. I was upset, and you should get upset. That’s sort of how I reacted. It wasn’t about making any direct comment to one player because everybody on our team was a free agent at that time, or about ready to become free agents.”

Riles also said he’s all fired up for 2016’s Free agency summer that will have names like Kevin Durant in the mix:

Asked if he was ready to make another big free-agency splash in two years, Riley, 69, answered “yes.”

“It’s fired me up,” Riley said of dealing with the emotional highs and lows of the past month. “I don’t like to get beat in anything.

“This process didn’t take anything out of me. That chain has been broken prematurely, but we’re going to try to make it a generational (team) again. We were always looking at 2016 to be a (major) player (in free agency).”