Riley will stick with pal
Pat Riley has developed a well-earned reputation as a win-at-all-costs competitor, sort of the Michael Jordan of the boardroom. Nevertheless, I still say Erik Spoelstra finishes the season as Heat coach. For starters, Spoelstra didn't get dumber during the offseason, and he's already considered one of the brighter young minds in the NBA.
Secondly, Riley got his competitive jones last summer, when he scored the remarkable coup of landing LeBron James and Chris Bosh and re-signing Dwyane Wade. Integrating those players will take some time. And everybody knew the Heat still had deficiencies at center and point guard. Finally, Riley and Spoelstra are close. And they communicate all the time. I know there's this perception Riley can backstab anybody. But I just don't see it here. I can see meddling and suggestions. I can't see a firing.
He's safe — for now
What an absurd notion. Would Pat Riley and the Miami Heat ever ditch a coach in the middle of a season with such promise? Would hard-ass Riley ever buckle to the wishes of superstar players and shove aside a coach to whom he has pledged support? What could Riley and the Heat possibly expect to gain from such a risky move? An NBA title? And if Riley did dump Spoelstra, who could he get with enough cred, enough mojo, to coach the likes of LeBron, Wade and Bosh to The Finals?
OK, enough with the snarky questions, all of which have been answered. (read: 2006 championship season) The reality these days in Miami is this: Spo has the cred and Riley's support … for now. And he's Wade's guy … for now. So Spoelstra is safe … for now.
Too soon to make move
No, Erik Spoelstra, that man you can feel over your shoulder and mounted on a white horse is Pat Riley.
Same guy who replaced Stan Van Gundy with himself in 2006.
The Heat don't want Riley to leave the front office to take over if Spoelstra struggles, and Riley doesn't really want back in the saddle.
But Riley didn't put together an all-star team to watch it underachieve.
The Heat, coming off a loss to Utah in which they blew a big lead, have a rematch against Boston tonight. If they lose and fall to 5-4, you can bet media pundits and 24-7 sports-talk hosts will be asking the Riley-in-relief question.
It's crazy, way too early, gives Spoelstra no credit as a coach … but that's the way these things work today.
If you remember, Riley came out of the bullpen for Van Gundy and led the Heat to a title. So he has practice.
Bet on Riley on bench
Los Angeles Times
Not if the Heat get blown out by the Celtics in Miami on Thursday, or on the road against the Lakers on Christmas Day.
And it's a better bet Pat Riley takes over as coach than the Heat win the title this season.
Of course, history has proved the Heat only win a championship when Riley installs himself on the bench and gives the previous coach (Stan Van Gundy) extra time to spend time with his family.
So far the Heat are playing spotty because they are a small team in the frontcourt — Chris Bosh is a disappointment on the boards, and it forces LeBron James to fight for rebounds.
But that's why lots of folks outside of Miami thought the Lakers, Celtics or Magic were all better teams — they each have bigger and better defenders and rebounders on their rosters.