When a guy sits down to a press conference and begins by saying “I’m pissed,” you know you’re in for a good show.
Pat Riley, president of the Heat as well as the closest thing we’ll have to a Sith Lord in this non-fictional universe, met with the media a few days after his star player LeBron James did. While LeBron was non-committal and somber, Riley was definitive and angry. The jist of his nine-minute pep talk to… himself? His team? The world? LeBron?… was that losing once (or twice) in the Finals doesn’t mean anything. Stay the course. Stick with this. Don’t leave.
Here are the highlights from the 50-minute session:
“Get a grip,” “If you’ve got the guts,” “Don’t think we’re not going to get beat again,” and “We hope that all those guys [the Big 3] can come along with us” are all things you might not expect a guy trying to keep his team from falling apart to say. But Riley brings some much needed perspective here. Did we really expect the Heat to win not four, not five, not eleven, not eighteen championships… in a row? Of course not. But this is still an excellent team. The idea that LeBron would leave is ludicrous, and if he does, frankly, he’s stupid. Those are my words, not Riley’s. Well, not exactly his words. But that’s what he’s getting at here.
At the end of the day, Riley brought it back to himself and management — it’ll be on him to make this team championship-caliber again. But it starts with the Big 3 buying in.