We're off to an ok start with this Riley/KG anecdote, and then, Bill, in his own phraseology, starts doing Bill things
Any local ambling along the beach would have done a triple-take at the sight of Riley, tan and perfectly coiffed, listening intently as a 7-foot-1 black man spilled his feelings
If you saw Kevin garnett irl, your reaction would not be "wow, that's KG!", or if you didn't know him "wow, that guy is 7 feet tall and ways less than I do!" It would be "but why is he talking with a man of another race! What business could they possible have?"
But an aging Miami roster lacked the requisite assets to acquire any All-Star, much less a future Hall of Famer like Garnett. This was a two-horse race: Boston and Los Angeles.
That is flatly untrue. There were many other teams in the discussion, including Chicago and Phoenix (who reportedly turned down an amare/kg swap). That's just who I remember off the top of my head.
He adored Garnett’s passion for basketball, game after game, year after year, which never wavered no matter how bleak his situation might be.
Note that "he" refers to riley, not popular espn.com columnist Bill Simmons who at the time blamed Minnesota's lack of titles on kg's lack of a killer instinct and unwillingness to get suspended for a game 7 by punching Anthony peeler.
Riley explained how precious an NBA prime really was, how briskly that window could close. He watched West get old, and Wilt, and Kareem. It happened to everyone.
"But where do they go when they die?" precocious little Kevin asked.
There was a higher level of basketball. It was out there. You wouldn’t understand until you’ve experienced it. And until you’ve lost it, too.
There's a higher level of writing. It's out there. Like writing in clipped sentences. You wouldn't understand until you've experienced it.
They talked and talked, and they kept talking, and eventually, things became clearer for Kevin Garnett. A few weeks later, he signed off on a Boston megadeal.
Because he finally understood that winning is totes awesomer than losing. That's The Secret of Basketball I think.
Riley understood that, for coaches and executives, your reputation means everything.
Only for coaches and executives, though. If you're an HVAC repairman, a small business owner or an elected official, you can pretty much act like a dick without your livelihood suffering.
The perception of being “classy” doesn’t just happen. It’s not something you purchase. You earn that tag, day after day after day, with the relationships you build, with the connections you make, with the things you say when you don’t have to say them. Every story counts.
That's why pay riley would never illegally breach his contract to sign with a rival team when he didn't get the front office job he wanted. Or force one of the best coaches in the league to resign so he could hog the glory. Because he understands stuff about reputation and Doing Things the Right Way.
Players want to play for Gregg Popovich and Brad Stevens because everyone else loves playing for Popovich and Stevens.
Players want to go to war in a Game 7 with a proven winner like Michael Jordan or Avery Bradley.
For owners and executives, it’s harder to earn a sterling reputation. You achieve it by taking care of your players and lavishing them with extravagances. You don’t blink when they ask you for extra tickets and extra favors. You remember the names of everyone in their lives, and when you see those people, you act like they are the most important humans you’ll meet that day.
Listen up, folks. It's not everyday that a GM who won hypothetical titles for the wolves and bucks will dish on his secrets to success. And to think Rick Pitino had the nerve to write a humble brag/autobiography/self help book.
Quality veterans shaved their salaries to play with LeBron and Wade, but also because they wanted to play in South Beach for Pat Riley (and owner Micky Arison, too).
The cavs won the title with because of Lebron and Kyrie, but also the guy who booked halftime entertainment at the Q.
It helps that the handsome Riley exudes so much charisma, at all times, that screenwriter Robert Towne modeled one of the Tequila Sunrise leads after him, then tried to hire Riley before settling on backup choice Kurt Russell.
Did Phil Jackson even get called to read for Jack Nicholson's part in Chinatown? They shouldn't let him into the hall of fame if he buys a ticket!
And if anyone ever asked Garnett about Riley, you can imagine what the response would be.
KG:"I ran into him in Malibu one summer, and we had a very nice talk. He couldn't have been more friendly and gave me some very good advice. I have tremendous respect for him"
BS:"ZOMG MALIBU, WERE THERE ANY OTHER CELEBS THERE???"
July 1, Kevin Durant will become an unrestricted free agent.
Oh yeah, him.
Miami lurks as the darkest of horses, mainly because of Riley’s storied history of pulling off talent coups. He stole Tim Hardaway, Goran Dragic, and Shaquille O’Neal in separate deals for 50 cents on the dollar.
Maybe a nit-pick, but I don't think the Shaq trade wasn't as lopsided as he's making it out to be. Butler was a can't miss prospect who ended up making multiple all star teams. Odom was an all-star entering his prime. Shaq was at the tail end of his prime, and wanted a huge 5 year contract. As many teams correctly guessed, you had a two year window to win a title before you were spending a third of your payroll on a fat old man. Most teams just didn't have another star player on top of the trade assets needed. Obviously, it set the Lakers back significantly, but that's partly because they stupidly traded Butler for Kwame Brown.
He nearly stole Juwan Howard from Washington before David Stern vetoed Riley’s overly creative offer sheet.
That's a positive? That would have been a terrible contract for Miami.
In the summer of 2010, he somehow convinced LeBron James, the league’s best player since Michael Jordan, to align with Dwyane Wade AND fellow free agent Chris Bosh.
Because he already had one of the three guys who wanted to play together and all he had to do was be less incompetent than Cleveland.
You make your own luck to some degree, but Pat Riley might be the luckiest SOB in the history of the NBA. In 1981, Dr. Jerry Buss tossed him the keys to the Ferrari of NBA engines, the Showtime Lakers, only because then-coach Paul Westhead inexplicably regarded them as a half-court team.
Their biggest ongoing threat (Bird’s Celtics) was unexpectedly derailed by injuries and cocaine
How fortunate, that their only competition was some fluke team with multiple hall of famers that won merely 3 NBA championships before prematurely flaming out. It's inconceivable that their best players become less durable as they got older, that NEVER happens!
And Len Bias, despite never having played a game in the NBA, was so incontrovertibly good that he not only would have prevented the Lakers from winning titles in 87 and 88, but he would have retroactively invalidated the 3 titles that LA had already won prior to his being drafted.
as were the Lakers’ looming successors in the West (Houston and Dallas)
Every single era has teams that don't make it due to injuries or whatever. Anybody who's going around today saying that Roy Tarpley's cocaine usage means asterisks for the Lakers title, deserves to be punched in the nuts with brass knuckles.
Add everything up and you left the 1980s thinking, “Freaking Pat Riley … that guy could slip in dog shit and land in a pile of hundred-dollar bills.”
I think there were many more people who left the 80's thinking the Lakers were the best team of the decade who won 5 titles because they had arguably the best point guard and center of all time playing together and a bunch of awesome supporting players.
Riley’s luck dipped a little in Manhattan (the Charles Smith Game, then theJohn Starks Game) and then South Beach (those Alonzo Mourning–led contenders never got over the hump)
Ewing's failure to win a title with the Knicks - he was a loser who didn't understand the finer points of chemistry and character.
Riley's failure to win a title with the Knicks - bad luck.
with everything flipping in 2003 — the year Wade fell to Miami’s fifth-overall pick only because everyone had severely overrated the immortal Darko Milicic.
And it's not like Riley deserves any credit for drafting the right guy, what with a Miami-Dade County Court issuing a cease-and-desist order against the Heat taking Chris Kaman or Josh Howard with that pick.
In consecutive offseasons, Caron Butler dropped to Miami’s 10th-overall pick and then Anthony Carter’s agent stupidly failed to exercise his player option
Ok, that's pretty lucky.
creating enough cap space for Riley to splurge on free agent Lamar Odom
Yeah, so obvious to use that cap space on a guy who had failed 3 drug tests in just 4 seasons, and played only 49 and 29 games in the prior two years. Anybody else would have done the exact same thing.
Twelve months later, Riley flipped Odom and Butler into Shaq — still the league’s best center, and suddenly motivated, too. I mean, how the hell does that happen???
Danny Ainge making good draft picks and packaging them for two superstars, one of whose GM's was a former teammate of Ainge's? Savvy, perserverance and The Secret. Riley making good draft picks/signing and packaging them for one superstar? BLIND LUCK. NAWT FAY-UH.
Only Riley completely reinvented himself as a head coach — riding the run-and-gun Lakers for four titles, then renovating Patrick Ewing’s Knicks into a nastier, even more bruising version of the Bad Boy Pistons.
The 2011 Mavs who shot 3's like they were going out of style played EXACTLY like the early 2000's Pistons and Pacers that won their games 69-62. Rick Carlisle is a one-trick pony, I tell you.
As legend has it, whenever Riley recruits free-agent targets, he inevitably dumps those heavy rings on a conference table. He wants them to clatter loudly, as if someone had dropped a bag of silver dollars. CLANG.
He wants pieces of metal to clatter on the table like pieces of metal clattering on a table. Genius.
It’s the basketball version of Dirk Diggler pulling out his foot-long schlong. I’m a big, shining star. I’m Pat Riley.
I totally didn't understand the psychological motivation behind him doing that, but now it all makes sense. BIG DICKS, RIGHT ON BRUH.
Just as quickly, Riley can transform into that pseudo-pastor that the Garnetts met in Malibu.
Pseudo-pastor? What does that mean? Terrible writing.
Or, he can turn into a drill sergeant — the guy who threw away in-game strategy during Game 6 of the 2006 Finals, choosing to spend that time in Dallas by screaming like a sports movie coach.
Just as Barack Obama gives speeches like a politics movie president, or David Petraeus makes battle plans like a war movie general.
Hopefully the footage from those huddles leaks someday — just Riley eschewing a clipboard and repeatedly begging his players to dig deep, like a boxing trainer pushing his fighter for one more round. He promised they were breaking the Mavericks, implored them to be more physical, swore that he could smell a title. He locked eyes with and challenged every player man to man. He could be heard saying things along the lines of, This isn’t about basketball anymore!
You mean, he acted intense and got in his players face? What a unique and original way to coach sports! No wonder he has all those cock-like rings to wave at potential free agents!
In 70 years of modern professional basketball, only four people consistently affected the balance of the league without playing: Red Auerbach, Gregg Popovich, Phil Jackson and Riley.
Sure, Jerry West lured Shaq away from a potential dynasty and drafted Kobe, but how many beach conversations did he have with Kevin Garnett? 0.
Auerbach was a wisecracking Russian American Jew who clicked with black players
Good thing he wasn't a Luxembourgian-American Anabaptist with a dry sense of humor. Wouldn't have worked.
empowered them and fought for them during the 20th century’s most tumultuous stretch.
World War I, The Great Depression, World War II, and the Cuban Missile Crisis just weren't tumultuous enough to prepare the world for Boston Celtics fans coming to terms with their racism.
Jackson appealed to the egos of his signature stars while keeping the team’s collective personality in check.
No coach in the history of sports has ever done this.
Popovich knew he struck oil with young Tim Duncan, a generational talent who cared only about winning titles and being a good teammate, so Pop created a culture that reflected Duncan’s unusual selflessness.
As opposed to the all the other moron coaches have been telling their players to chuck shots indiscriminately and not play any defense.
Riley was blessed with Popovich’s attention to culture and Jackson’s savviness for aligning with special players, but really, the dude has been more Auerbachian than he’d ever admit.
With a splash of Danny Ainge and a sprinkinling of Wyc Grousbeck of course.
Auerbach is the only other NBA executive in 70 years, dead or alive, who could have pulled off LeBron and Bosh in the summer of 2010. Nobody else had enough foresight or charisma. It’s two people and two people only.
So Riley is like Auerbach because Riley did something that only hypothetically Auerbach could also have done. Evidence? Context? Supporting arguments? None whatsoever. Must have ran out of space.
Insiders believe that Riley remains bitter that LeBron pressured Miami to trade for the rights to Shabazz Napier two weeks before James announced his departure through a magazine story — a story that had clearly been written at least 48 hours earlier.
Insiders = anybody with a fucking brain.
Riley tipped his resentment the following spring, explaining his 2015 draft plans with the dig, “No more smiling faces with hidden agendas, so we’ll be going in clean.”
I dunno, I'll need Chris Broussard to dig around his sources before I jump to any conclusions with that quote.
Of course, Riley wasn’t blameless. After San Antonio soundly drummed Miami from the 2014 Finals, Riley’s epic 55-minute press conference was peppered with verbal subtweets like: “This stuff is hard. And you got to stay together, if you’ve got the guts. And you don’t find the first door and run out of it.”
The only other coach who would have had the guts to publicly slam his franchise player and two-time Finals MVP right as he was about to enter free agency? Rudy Tomjanovich. Because reasons. No one denies this.
It’s fair to wonder whether LeBron’s me-me-me generation even makes sense to him
If any generation is noted for its non self-absorption, it's definitely Baby Boomers.
take, for example, what happened last weekend, when Whiteside described his impending free agency this way: “I really don’t think it’s about loyalty. I think it’s just about [finding] the best situation for myself.”
Not like the good old days when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar selflessly allowed himself to be traded from Milwaukee to LA without having any input in the decision whatsoever.
Those words came from a basketball nomad who bounced around for four solid years before Miami, and Riley, saved his career and remodeled him into a legitimate asset.
Worst phrasing ever. They turned him into a valuable item on their balance sheet! They treated him like a son!
If the 71-year-old Riley can’t connect with someone like Whiteside, much less LeBron, does that mean it’s time?
He can't connect with one of the most notoriously difficult personalities in the entire league? He seemed to be "connecting" just fine with LeBron when they were winning titles.
Well, if Whiteside bolts and Chris Bosh’s medical situation doesn’t get resolved, we’re looking at another Heat teardown — one that won’t be nearly as easy with Wade, astonishingly, turning 35 next January. That would be the perfect time for Riley to slide out the back door, head to the beach and disappear, Johnny Carson–style, with his nine rings.
Only to weasel his way back in when they get good again and take all the credit.
Of course, he’s still Pat Freaking Riley. Which means we can’t rule out Whiteside’s return, or a Blake Griffin trade, or even a certain 2014 MVP. Everything is in play. Everything.
They might make some trades and stuff. You heard it hear first.
On Friday night, news broke that Miami landed one of the six coveted meetings with Durant, the biggest free-agent prize since 2010. For years and years and years, Pat Riley simply wanted to get in the room with someone like that — bring the rings, bring the charm, bring the swagger, let the reputation do the rest.
I guess his reputation will find a #2 guy as talented as Russell Westbrook, somehow.
But he’s definitely staring out at the ocean again. We gaze out to the water and see water. Pat Riley sees titles.
I cannot tell you how much I hate this man's writing. Look at this shit. Just look at it.