"Grand Daddy" Shaq to Phoenix: Did Pat Riley Con the Suns?
Let me just state for the record:
Pat Riley is a genius.
Pat Riley is a salesman.
And Pat Riley is also The Flim-Flam man.
If you combine all three into one, you have the making of one of the finest GM’s the NBA has ever seen...
Riley the Genius
He just traded Shaq O’Neal, "The Big Waste of a 20 Million Dollar Contract" to the Phoenix Suns for All-Star Shawn Marion, aka "The Matrix", as well as Marcus Banks
Miami Fans were in agreement: We traded our soul to the Devil for a Title four years ago
But since the NBA Championship, Shaq was in decline. Shaq had lost more then a step since he first came to the Heat. He had lost everything: his quickness, his shooting touch, his rebounding, his blocking ability, I mean everything. The only thing he had gained was weight and a boatload of injuries.
With three years left on his contract, at $20 million per, Miami and Riley were doomed.
Nobody would take Shaq. You couldn’t give him away. You couldn’t pay any team to take him off Miami's hands.
Or so we thought...
Riley: The Salesman and Flim-Flam Man
As the Flim-Flam Man (a gifted con artist), Riley could sell ice to the Eskimos, or in this case, an aging, hurt center, barely able to put on a uniform, $20 million a year player, to an unsuspecting NBA team.
Now most NBA GM’s confronted with such a daunting problem play the Old Soldier routine. Old GM’s never die; they just fade away, disappear, and leave all the problems they created for the next poor sucker. I’m sure Riley thought of that, but the old Willie Lohman of the NBA, felt he might have one more sale or trade up his sleeve.
Scanning the Elite Teams of the NBA, looking for his mark, or victim, Riley saw an opportunity. The Lakers just signed Pau Gasol, perhaps tipping the balance of power in the NBA’s Western Conference to the Lakers and away from the Phoenix Suns.
The Phoenix Suns were doubting themselves. Although they had the best record in the West, they were worried the Lakers might deny them the NBA Championship they covet so much.
Riley, the salesman calls Steve Kerr, GM of the Phoenix Suns. Steve being a new and inexperienced GM, would be easy prey for Rile’s slick way.
The conversation probably went something like this.
Riley: “Steve, I just heard that Memphis gave Pau to the Lakers. That’s not fair, there ought to be a law against that stuff. You guys were on the brink of winning your first title and some schmo just took it away from you. We’ll I’m here to remedy it. I can change all of that for you.”
Kerr: “How, Pat? Is Wade available?”
Riley: “Oh, this is way better than Wade. Can you spell Dynasty? We're talking titles here, at least three years for the Suns.
We, the Heat are willing to part, are you sitting down Steve? With the greatest player of all time, 14 times an All-Star, Regular Season MVP, and MVP three times in the finals, that’s Finals Steve.”
Riley: “That’s right. You’re probably thinking, why would Rile’s part with such a Super Star, and how could YOU, afford such a valuable piece like Shaq? Don't worry Steve, that’s the easy part. What’s important is, you reclaiming the lead in the West and bringing that Trophy home.”
Kerr: “But I heard Shaq was hurting.”
Riley: “Don’t believe all that stuff you read in the papers and NBA injury reports. Shaq was just playing possum so we can get a lottery pick. He’s in the best shape of his career.
Steve, you hate the Lakers don’t you? And you want to win the title? Then Shaq is the perfect fit for your system. He's just what you need, right?
Trust me Steve, just give us that malcontent, Marion, and we’ll take Banks lousy contract off your hands, then Rile’s will make it alright for Stevie.”
Kerr: “I don’t know Pat, It sounds really good, but I’ve got to talk to the owner.”
Riley: “Steve, this deal won’t last. Dallas is trying to get him right now as we speak. You delay, and you might miss an opportunity of a lifetime.
You're hurting my feelings. Its only because you’re my friend that I’m willing to give my buddy, Steve Kerr, such a smoking deal.
What do you say Steve, have we we got a deal?"
Kerr: “Yeah, let's do it! Send the papers over for me to sign”
Riley: “That's my boy Steve, you won’t regret it. Guaranteed Championship! And can we say, Exec of the year?!”
You must admit, this guy is slick. The Suns never had a chance.
You are a legend in your own time.
Pat Riley, I salute you.
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