Having twice stepped aside when the Miami Heat were at two of their lowest points, Pat Riley said in an interview with ESPN that he plans to continue on in his role as team president amid this latest uneven period.
Interviewed by ESPN personality Dan Le Batard, Riley, in a clip of the interview posted Tuesday by the network, referenced Dwyane Wade leading the Heat back from the brink of disaster against the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Finals, when Wade turned to Riley, then the team’s coach, and said, “I ain’t going out that way.”
With ESPN panning across those words outside the Heat locker room, Riley, who turns 74 on March 20, said, “Maybe that’s why I’m not going to retire. I ain’t going out this way, until we win another title.”
Riley twice has stepped aside as Heat coach with the team at low ebbs, first after the Heat went 25-57 in 2002-03 and then added Wade in the first round of the 2003 NBA draft. He then returned to help coach Wade to that 2006 NBA title before stepping aside as coach after the Heat went 15-67 in 2007-08.
Riley, who has served as Heat president since 1995, left his future open ended at the end of last season.
“I would love to have one of those golden consulting jobs somewhere,” he said. “There’s a few guys around the league that have those jobs. But I say that in jest, because all the men who do that I’m sure they provide a good service. But I’m an active participant, and I want to stay that way.”
The Heat have bolstered their front office in recent years, with Shane Battier added as director of basketball development and analytics, Adam Simon promoted this past offseason to vice president of player personnel, and Chris Bosh hinting of interest in a position with the team in the wake of the Heat’s recent announcement of retiring Bosh’s No. 1 jersey on March 26.
The ESPN interview with Riley was taped well in advance of Tuesday’s release of the clips both on the network’s website and on YouTube, with the full interview scheduled to run Sunday.
The Heat, who have one playoff series since advancing to the NBA Finals for a fourth consecutive time in 2014, and have won one playoff game since advancing to the second round in 2016, are 26-30, on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff race. They resume their schedule after the All-Star break on Thursday against the Philadelphia 76ers.
In the pre-taped interview, Riley also touched on LeBron James’ 2014 free-agency departure from the Heat after four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals and championships in 2012 and ’13.
“When LeBron made that call, I saw a dynasty fly out the window,” Riley said in the clip posted Tuesday by ESPN. “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. I wanted this city and this team to go 10 years and maybe be in the Finals eight times.
“I don’t know how many championships we would have won. But I don’t have any rancor toward him at all.”
As it turns out, Bosh began to experience what would turn into career-ending blood clots the following season, making it unlikely that Heat team could have remained at the same level.
The Riley interview airs Sunday on ESPN at 5:30 p.m., the first episode of “The Art of Conversation with Dan Le Batard.”
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