At 73, Heat’s Pat Riley not thinking retirement: ‘Something sucks you back in’

 

Heat president Pat Riley said ‘there’s always something that brings you back in,’ when thinking about retirement. (Photo Tom D’Angelo)

MIAMI – Something changed for Pat Riley the last two years.

Perhaps it’s the challenge of rebuilding this team, a process that started two summers ago. Or just the fact that about six weeks after his 73rd birthday that competitive flame still burns.

But after saying two years ago that he’s “had thoughts the last couple of years of moving on,” the Miami Heat president did an about face Monday at his postseason news conference on the same question.

“No, no I haven’t,” he said. “Until (owner Micky Arison) comes to me …  you know, I haven’t.”

Then, and now, Riley spoke about something that always “sucks you back in.”

“I‘ve spoken about this before, because I think this happens all the time to players, coaches, executives,” Riley said Monday. “This is my 50th year (in the NBA). There’s always something that brings you back in, there’s something that sucks you back in. You could tell yourself in September, ‘This is my last year.’ But by the end of the season something happens that sucks you back in. ‘I can’t now. I’ve got to make the team better. We have free agency. I’ve got a draft pick. I can’t do this to Micky. I can’t do this.’”

For Riley, this challenge of making the Heat competitive again in the post Big Three era is as difficult as any he’s had.

Riley appeared energized at his postseason news conference Monday, opening with a long statement about how he has had to build, tear down and rebuild several times since arriving in South Florida in 1995. He cited several major moves from the Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway era to the Eddie Jones, Lamar Odom, Brian Grant era to the Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O’Neal era to the Big Three to now.

“But my point in going back to Zo and Tim and that first team is what has got us to where we are here today,” he said. “Because between then and now I can’t think about the number of transactions. … 50, 60 transactions across the board.

“When you think about the 14 teams that didn’t make the playoffs and the ones not going to the second round, there’s 22 teams that didn’t advance. They’re not happy. They’re just like I am. They’re not happy. Getting beat in the first round … they’re having the same conversations we’re having. That’s why this is a wonderful time and open market. I always go back to the very first trade I made here to get Zo. There are more of those out there. I’m not saying they’re going to happen this year.”

That does not sound like a man ready to ride off into the sunset, even though he did say two years ago he has spoken to Arison about an exit plan.

“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 to the chagrin of some of you and some people in the organization.”

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