Riley Back to the Bench?

11 Nov

Before the summer’s free-agent frenzy, Pat Riley issued a public bluff: If a superstar wanted him on the bench, Riley wouldn’t hesitate to push out Erik Spoelstra. The words hung over Riley’s young coach, the way Riley’s silence on supporting Stan Van Gundy did years ago. The preening was needless, because Riley wants the grind of coaching as little as Dwyane Wade wants the grind of playing for him again.

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are still searching for some consistency on the court. (AP photo)

“I don’t believe Pat’s going to choose to go downstairs anymore, but there could come a point when [owner] Micky [Arison] tells him, ‘Go down there and fix this,’ ” said one league source close to Riley and Wade. “And then, he may have no choice.”

For all his public bluster over the summer, Riley has privately insisted that he’s grown too accustomed to the freedoms of the front office. Old Man Riles can play emperor these days, take his bows for the assemblage of talent and never the blame for why it isn’t working so seamlessly on the floor.

For all the breathless hyperbole – here and elsewhere – the Heat are 5-3 with a fantastic chance to creep closer to .500 on Thursday night with the Boston Celtics on the shores of Biscayne Bay. The flaws of these Heat can no longer be dismissed by unfamiliarity. Chris Bosh(notes) is struggling to play basketball under scrutiny and the team’s strength inside is nonexistent.
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