Already considered one of the greatest college players and NBA coaches in history, Pat Riley will most likely also be considered one of the greatest executives the league has ever had. Riley has been wheeling and dealing in the Miami Heat's back offices for more than a decade and has even received league recognition for his efforts. By acquiring some big names this past offseason (LeBron James and Chris Bosh ring a bell?), he won the NBA Executive of the Year Award.
Putting together the Miami Big Three is not the only major transaction that Pat Riley has made for this club, nor is it necessarily the greatest. I am going to break down the 10 best moves that Riley has made that have had a positive outcome for his team. The list ranges from signings to trades to draft picks and includes several future Hall of Famers.
It seems like as long as Riley has enough juice in his veins to suit up and slick back his hair, he will be making game-changing moves to bring the Heat back to greatness. Will his future moves replace some of the ones on this list in a few years? Knowing Riley, that's very likely.
So without further ado, here are Pat Riley's 10 best transactions as president of the Miami Heat.
With a team that already included Shaq and a budding Dwyane Wade, Miami was gunning for a ring in the months before the 2005-06 season. They needed a point guard with veteran experience and they found Gary Payton.
Payton had enjoyed a long and promising career, but it was coming to a close and he had yet to win an NBA championship. He seemed to be a perfect match for the Heat that year, and $1.1 million and nine months later, Payton and the Heat were sporting new rings.
A big name with extensive NBA experience can go a long way in a locker room, something that Riley knows very well.
Udonis Haslem was meant to play for this team. While he was born in Miami, attended high school in Miami and enrolled in the University of Florida, Haslem went undrafted in 2002 and opted to play a season in France. A year later, Riley he was signed by the Heat and has remained a key role player on the club ever since.
Haslem is a tough player who knows how to get his teammates and the crowd into a game. He has become a huge fan favorite and major part of the Heat's offense as a solid reserve player.
The 2004 season was one of Lamar Odom's best statistically, as he averaged 17.1 points and 9.7 rebounds per game as a starter for the Heat. He almost matched his career high in points from 2001 when he totaled 17.2 points, but with only 6.3 rebounds.
Odom helped a Miami team that was all but vacant of superstars pull off a 42-40 record in his single season there, but he might be more important to the Heat organization for being part of a major trade the following off-season. Who knows what kind of numbers he could have put up if he wasn't shipped off to the Lakers after just one stint in South Beach?
Already equipped with Shaq, Wade, Alonzo Mourning and Haslem, the Heat need those last few pieces of the puzzle to round out their 2006 championship team. Trading away Eddie Jones, Rasual Butler and Qyntel Woods, Riley and the Heat acquired Antoine Walker, Jason Williams and James Posey, and with the signing of Gary Payton a few weeks later, were complete.
Both Williams and Walker averaged over 12 points per game, providing the Heat with multiple options that weren't named Shaq or Wade. These key role players seemed to be exactly what Miami needed to secure their first franchise title.
One of Pat Riley's first moves as team president was the acquisition of one of the best players Miami has ever had. Hardaway holds the franchise record for most three point field goals and averaged at least 13 points per game in his tenure with the Heat (including 20.3 per game in 1996-97).
In the 1996-97 season, Hardaway helped the Heat to their best record in franchise history at 61-21, and will go down as one of Riley's best trades as Heat president.
Hardaway, along with Alonzo Mourning, are the only Heat players to have their numbers retired by the club.
While the ex-Toronto Raptors forward does round out the Heat's Big Three, he hasn't had quite the impact in Miami that LeBron and Wade have had. That being said, Bosh has made the NBA All-Star for the last six years in a row, and is a power forward that many other teams would love to have in their starting lineup.
Coming from being the main event in Toronto, many believed that Bosh would want just as many shots as the other star players, but he has fit in well into his role player position by taking less field goal attempts than in previous seasons while still maintaining his overall career field goal percentage.
Whether Shaq or Carlos Boozer want to admit it, Bosh is an integral part of this team and a big reason that the Heat almost took home the NBA championship. This move definitely is in the top five of Riley's transactions for the Heat.
From the moment Pat Riley arrived in Miami, he started making moves. On the night before the 1995-96 season began, Riley sent long time Heat player Glen Rice and others to the Hornets for center Alonzo Mourning. The trade proved to be a smart decision, as Mourning put up the best numbers of his career: 23.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game while starting in all 70 games he played.
Mourning has his number hanging in the American Airlines Arena rafters and is one of the best Heat players in history. He brought energy and intensity to the team, and when he arrived in Miami for his second stint midway through the 2004-05 season, he provided veteran leadership that helped lead to a championship.
Placing LeBron coming to the Heat at number three may shock some of you, but until he delivers Miami its second championship, he will stay behind the top two guys on this list.
LeBron is undoubtedly one of the best players in the world right now, and his arrival in Miami brought about a wave of excitement that hadn't been seen in years. Whether it happened this year or sometime in the near future, Heat fans knew that if King James was part of this team they would see parades in the coming years.
LeBron is an incredible player and will most likely go down as one of the greatest in NBA and Miami history, and he still has so many years ahead of him. LeBron will make this Riley move one of the greatest ever starting this season when he regroups and sets his sights on a ring. Count on it.
When Pat Riley traded three key role players to Los Angeles to make away for Shaq/Diesel/The Man of Steel/Shaq Fu's arrival in Miami, everyone knew he would make a huge difference for the Heat. Granted, he wasn't putting up numbers like he did for the Lakers, but Shaq still averaged a double double that year to lead the Heat to the second best record in franchise history at 59-23.
Shaq was the perfect partner for Wade, who was finally becoming the superstar he is today, and only a few years later, they would lead the Heat to a victory over the Mavericks for the NBA title.
Shaq is one of the best players in NBA history, and making a trade to acquire him is definitely one of the best moves Riley has ever or will ever make.
Heading into the 2003 NBA Draft, the Heat were coming off of one of their worst seasons ever and were in desperate need of a point guard. Many expected that Miami would draft a true point guard, and when they were put on the clock with the fifth overall pick, Kirk Hinrich and T.J. Ford were still available. When Riley decided to go against what was expected and pick Dwyane Wade, he made a decision that changed the Heat forever.
Wade was the number one reason that Miami won its first franchise NBA championship, and he is the reason they will win a few more. Finals MVP in his third year, seven time All-Star and 2009 NBA scoring champion. The Heat could not have made a better pick.
D-Wade is the face of this franchise and its most beloved player. I don't believe that either Kirk Hinrich or T.J. Ford or any other player selected after Wade was would have had the same impact.
Wade will be around for a while and will continue to excite and entertain the Heat faithful for many years. This draft choice most certainly is considered the best thing that Pat Riley has ever done for Miami.