Pat Riley revealed he was unhappy with the way LeBron James left Miami. Should Riley be angry with LeBron?
An interesting note was revealed in a recent ESPN feature about Pat Riley. It covers the time after LeBron James decided to leave the Miami Heat to go back home and rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers three years ago. Riley was upset and he apparently felt the negotiations beforehand were not genuine. Riley and his team flew to Las Vegas to meet with LeBron and his camp. Riley claims James and his team spent most of the time distracted by a World Cup game on the TV. Afterward, Riley said he was “very angry,” and apparently almost pulled a Dan Gilbert. (That, of course, is a reference to the Cavs owner writing a letter — in Comic Sans! — to the city of Cleveland after LeBron left for Miami, in which he called the move a “cowardly betrayal.”)
Riley told his lieutenant, Andy Elisburg, to get the two championship trophies LeBron had won and pack them in their hard-shell carrying cases. Elisburg also brought charts and an easel for a presentation about the free agents the Heat would pursue. The day of the meeting, a hotel bellhop followed them with a luggage cart carrying the presentation and the two trophies. Riley brought wine from a Napa vineyard named Promise. It was the same label Maverick Carter had presented Riley with when they did the deal four years earlier. Riley respects Carter, and when he walked into the suite and saw James with agent Rich Paul and friend Randy Mims but no Maverick, part of him knew the meeting wasn’t sincere. He told Elisburg to keep the trophies and easel in the hall. James and his associates were watching a World Cup game, which they kept glancing at during the presentation. At one point, Riley asked if they’d mute the TV. Riley flew home worried and got a text telling him to be ready for a call. About 15 minutes later, his phone rang and Paul was on the other end. The agent handed the phone to LeBron, who started by saying, “I want to thank you for four years … “I was silent. I didn’t say anything. My mind began to just go. And it was over. I was very angry when LeBron left. It was personal for me. It just was. I had a very good friend who talked me off the ledge and kept me from going out there and saying something like Dan Gilbert. I’m glad I didn’t do it.”
Kelly Dwyer from Yahoo Sports:
It was James’ time to do it. Though the Cavaliers looked a blank slate in comparison to the Miami Heat’s settled stararchy in the summer of 2014, the team still had provocative options in young point guard Kyrie Irving, and two No. 1 overall picks as trade bait to play with. Two Finals trips and a championship later, LeBron’s basketball decision has long ago been assured as sensible. Most did even that summer, noting the age of Heat stars (and free agents) Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but this didn’t deter Riley from signing the then-32 year-old Wade (at two years, $34 million with a player option) and just-turned 30 Bosh (five years, $118 million) to ignite the turnaround. Bosh fell later that (All-Star) year due to blood clots, a condition that has put his basketball career on hold. Wade turned in two All-Star seasons in James’ absence, with one playoff trip, before leaving as a free agent in 2016 after some contract turmoil of his own with the Heat.
Joy Taylor from Fox Sports:
The reality is he wanted more control over the organization he played for. He wanted an environment where he called all the shots, had a say over front office, personnel and coaching decisions, and most importantly, an environment where his intentions weren’t constantly being called into question. Who can blame him? He’s underpaid and by far the best player in the league. The issue is: should a team turn the organization over to a player? You run the risk of him making emotional decisions, not understanding the cap, leaving again and putting the team in a hole. This is the risk Pat Riley took by not bending to LeBron’s every will, something that he didn’t have as much flexibility to do based on the decisions that had been made in building the championship rosters of the prior seasons. It’s hard to fault Riley for that. Despite the greatness of LeBron, the idea of him taking control of one of the most consistent and well run programs in the league would have made me uncomfortable. It’s all a moot point now, as LeBron prepares to lead the Cavs into the playoffs to defend their title. But it’s fun to imagine where the Heat would be now if he had stayed.
What do the fans think?:
@IraHeatBeat Pat Riley left the Knicks without any future 1st Rd picks, and he'll do the same thing with the HEAT (unfortunately)
— ⋀uraՏouɴdz (@AuraSoundz) April 26, 2017
I don't have an idol or anyone I look up to but dammit Pat Riley is the closest thing to it. https://t.co/8LcE3Fs3wo
— Dylan Burns (@DylanBurnsPro1) April 26, 2017
Lebron was watching a World Cup game when Pat Riley was trying to convince him to stay with Miami?
Yeah…he was done from jump!
— Keith Nelson Jr (@JusAire) April 26, 2017
@Espngreeny Stu Gotz BOO HOO on Pat Riley having to fly to Vegas. Lebron owes him squat. Times have changed and stars have power. Rudy
— Rudy Fullen (@rudyfullen) April 26, 2017
Lebron disrespecting Pat Riley is very interesting
— T.Hall (@thall123what) April 26, 2017
I still can't get over the whole LeBron watching the world cup with the volume on during his meeting with Pat Riley.
— Bolshevik Mensa (@alfonsohoops) April 26, 2017
@IanBegley I'm sure Chris bosh Dwayne Wade and LeBron James don't have high opinions of Pat Riley
— Rick Samuels (@RickSamuels5) April 26, 2017
@ESPNNBA Lebron isn't a saint, but Pat Riley moving down to Dolan levels with that comment
— Ivan (@1dukes) April 26, 2017
LeBron didn't owe Pat Riley a damn thing https://t.co/N9e3pqcHIK
— Porter Metzler (@pmetz13) April 26, 2017
Pat Riley decides to send Lebron a hand written letter after all. Lebron opens it in Cavs locker room; pic.twitter.com/FTyIMdcBi3
— Greg (@GregfromDelray) April 25, 2017
— Trust The Culture (@n_heatnation) April 25, 2017
@espn Pat Riley turned LeBron into a champion
— Chris (@TrulySeaweed) April 25, 2017
Nobody cares about Pat Riley's feelings in 2014 or 2017. They are irrelevant–LeBron let your ass and you still reminiscing and salty. FOH
— The Third (@rawbshore) April 25, 2017
I really think LeBron would've been more successful had he stayed in Miami with Dwade. Pat Riley definitely would've put players around him
— 🔥Isaiah Wilhite🔥 (@isaiah_wilhite) April 25, 2017
I understand Pat Riley's frustration over LeBron. He did everything right but as soon as it got hard & it wasn't easy anymore Bron bolted
— Jordan Ball (@jazzyjordanb) April 25, 2017
@espn LeBron brought Pat Riley and The Heat organization 2 championships, why is he acting like he did nothing for them?
— Kevin Bonfich (@KBonfich_23) April 25, 2017
— Shaun 🌊 (@riseofthetides) April 25, 2017
Pat Riley came clean and opened up about the Wade and LeBron situations and nothing he said was a lie. He had good reasons for what he did.
— J (@j_rft) April 25, 2017
Lebron is an entitled cry baby who feels he doesn't have to follow rules what Pat Riley said was true "you dont pick the first door and run! https://t.co/LsoxkaaPAC
— Quin (@QuinSportsDiva) April 25, 2017
What do you think? Should Riley be angry with LeBron?