Pat Riley once told Danny Ainge to “shut the f— up” through a statement.
Now that we know Riley tends to hold onto documents in his “save drafts” (just ask Dwyane Wade) perhaps he could dust that one off and send it to Phil Jackson.
Jackson may have taken over two championship ready teams (Bulls, Lakers) and collected 11 rings along the way, but nothing he has done suggests he has a “vibe” to build anything resembling a championship team from the ground up.
In a recent interview with ESPN, Jackson, now the Knicks president, questioned how Riley could lose Wade this summer and said LeBron James leaving Miami for Cleveland in 2014 “definitely was a slap in the face.”
Jackson added that Riley’s “vibe” with his players has broken down.
“I always thought Pat had this really nice vibe with his guys. But something happened there where it broke down,” Jackson said.
Riley and Jackson have had a long-standing rivalry, dating back to when Jackson took over the ready-made Bulls with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant and led them to six titles in eight years, losing the two years Jordan experimented with baseball.
During that run, Jackson’s Bulls were 3-1 in playoff series against Riley’s Knicks and eliminated Riley’s Heat twice.
What separates Riley – who has seven titles as a coach and executive – from Jackson are the three titles Riley won in Miami: 2006 (president/coach), 2012 and 2013 (president).
Jackson’s only experience with running a team started in 2014 when he was named president of the Knicks. He’s made one disastrous coaching hire (Derek Fisher) and the Knicks have lost 115 games in Jackson’s two full seasons. Jackson’s attempt at a quick fix this year meant bringing in Derrick Rose.
In 2013, Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, made the mistake of criticizing James for questioning the officials for calls they made during a Heat-Bulls game.
“I think the referees got it right,” Ainge told a radio station. “I think that it’s almost embarrassing that LeBron would complain about officiating.”
Riley responded in a statement released though a Heat spokesperson:
“Danny Ainge needs to shut the f— up and manage his own team. He was the biggest whiner going when he was playing and I know that because I coached against him.”
Maybe it’s time for Riley to go back into those saved drafts.