Can we call you Pat?
As Miami Heat fans, we would like to thank you. Ever since you faxed in your resignation to the hated New York Knicks, our relationship has been nothing but bliss. A championship in '06 and countless superstars for our viewing pleasure.
During your tenure you have brought in the likes of Tim Hardaway, Alonzo Morning, Dwayne Wade and Shaquille O'Neil. Not only did you get Shaq, but you had the foresight to trade him before he became the irrelevant player he was in Phoenix, Cleveland and then Boston. Genius.
Speaking of foresight, you quietly got rid of big, cumbersome contracts in preparation for the summer of 2010. Not only did you get the three best players on the free agent market that season, you got them all to come to Miami for a discount!
The excitement in Miami was palpable. Dan Le Batard, Miami Herald Columnist and host of the ESPN show Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable, went on a four-minute rant about how you were "gangsta" and "a pimp."
The bar had been set high.... "not 1, not 2, not 3....."
After pulling off the the biggest heist in NBA history, you handed the keys to that Bugatti to your protege, Eric Spolestra. It didn't take long for the fanbase to call for his head. The Heat started off 8-7, and the media started asking when you would return to the bench and lead this team of superstars.
You didn't, and the Heat lost to the Mavericks in the Finals.
"It's okay," we said, "it's year one." The Heat needed time to gel as a team; we would be better in year two.
Year two was shortened by a lockout, and for the second year in a row the Heat would finish as the second seed in the East. After making short work of the Knicks in the first round, the Heat were tested by a young Indiana Pacers team.
The third round would bring a familiar foe to both Heat fans and LeBron James: the Boston Celtics. In beating a Boston team less than 48 hours removed from a tough seven-game series, the Heat cruised to a Game 1 victory. Ever since then they have been out-hustled, out-coached and out-played by an older Celtics team.
Doc Rivers is coaching circles around Spo, and the former video coordinator has no answer for what Doc is throwing at him. The Heat offense stalled as Rivers alternated man-to-man and zone defenses. The Heat were taken down by the zone last year in the finals, so shouldn't the coach have a way to counter that by now?
It's not like you haven't made this same move before, Pat. Remember in 2006 when Stan Van Gundy stepped down for "personal reasons"? You took over a floundering Heat team and brought the franchise its first championship.
Shaq's ego would never let him take orders from a coach he didn't respect, and while none of the Big Three have an ego as big as Shaq, they too cannot take orders from a coach they cannot respect.
Let me ask you a question, Pat. Would there have been a "bump gate" if you were on the bench in 2010? Would Dwayne Wade have yelled at you on national television for questioning his hustle on defense? Yeah, I didn't think so.
Too often while watching this team, their drive, determination, hustle and heart come into question. Would a Pat Riley coached team ever have their heart and desire questioned? I think not.
In your wooing of LeBron, you showed him your seven championship rings. You're a winner. A leader of men.You have been to the mountain top and are one of the most respected people in the sport.
As head coach of the Heat, you would command the kind of respect that Spo doesn't get from not only his team but the media and fan base as well. This Heat team is in dire need of those famous five- and six-hour Pat Riley practices. They need someone to instill the kind of fire and desire that the Celtics have shown in this Eastern Conference finals.
The Heat now face an elimination game in a building where they have lost 14-of-15, and the question is "Will Miami blow up the Big Three?"
That's not your style. To blow up the Big Three would admit your experiment was wrong. The pieces of the puzzle might not fit perfectly, but this monster you have built can win multiple championships.
It's time to come back down to the bench, Pat. You have given Spo two seasons to get through to this team, and the same problems from year one have cropped up in year two.
Bill Parcells argued that he cooked the dinner, so he should be allowed to buy the groceries. Well, Pat, you bought the groceries—now get back in the kitchen, turn the heat up and cook the dinner.
Miami Heat Fans