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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Pat Riley: LeBron James’ departure from Miami ‘was personal’

Pat Riley Heat

Pat Riley still feels the sting of the moment that his greatest triumph as an executive, The Big Three, came crumbling apart.

In a feature by ESPN’s Wright Thompson that ran on Tuesday, the Miami Heat president opened up about his anger at LeBron James’ departure from the team in the summer of 2014.

“I was silent,” Riley said of learning about James’ decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. “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.”

Riley did, however, admit to eventually understanding why James left.

“He went home because he had to go home,” Riley continued. “It was time. It was really time for him to go home, in his prime. If he’s ever gonna do anything in Akron again, this was the time to do it. Otherwise, he’d have had a scarlet letter on his back the rest of his whole life.”

James helped lead Miami to four straight NBA Finals appearances in as many years and back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013. But his departure was followed by Dwyane Wade’s exit two summers later and Chris Bosh’s essential exit not long after. We knew based on James’ “secret motivation” of the last couple years that there was at least some mutual ill will between him and Riley, and based on the latter’s comments, it’s easy to see why.

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