Pat Riley: ‘I saw a dynasty fly out the window’ upon LeBron James’ departure
Pat Riley evidently is still smarting over LeBron James’ decision to return home to play with the Cleveland Cavaliers following the 2013-14 NBA season, mostly due to what could have been for the Miami Heat with his presence.
During a conversation with ESPN’s Dan Le Batard scheduled to air in full this coming Sunday, the Heat president cut open a vein discussing how James very likely torpedoed a potentially lengthy dynastic era for an organization then led on the court by James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Pat Riley tells @LeBatardShow he saw a "10-year team" disappear with LeBron's decision to leave Miami. pic.twitter.com/lbZK4mzz9o— ESPN (@espn) February 19, 2019
“When LeBron made that call (that he leaving), I saw a dynasty fly out the window,” Riley said, as transcribed by Dime Mag. “I didn’t blame him, but I knew that was a 10-year team. It was just a sad day for me and for our franchise, because I wanted that dynasty.”
Riley did not mince words in the least once James made his way back to Cleveland. In fact, Riley, presumably in anticipation of James’ expected exodus out of South Beach, issued a warning salvo following the Heat’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals.
“This stuff is hard, and you’ve got to stay together if you’ve got the guts” Riley said. “You don’t find the first door and run out of it.”
Further, Riley continued to express harbored bitterness over James’ departure well after it occurred. James never seemed too bothered by it, though. Riley also later admitted to almost penning an embarrassing, Dan Gilbert-esque letter in the wake of James’ departure.
All told, James led the Heat to four Finals appearances, winning two titles. It’s obviously difficult to predict how things may have played out in Miami had James stayed, as Chris Bosh’s health issues that began in 2015 of course would have been an obstacle.
Still, Riley is probably correct to some degree about how the Heat would have remained contenders so long as the Big Three remained intact.