Pat Riley: Lakers' Title Win Will Always Have Asterisk Due to Heat's Injuries

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 25, 2020

Miami Heat president Pat Riley watches before an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

If you ask nearly every person in the NBA, they will tell you there is no such thing as an asterisked championship.

Pat Riley apparently disagrees.

The Miami Heat president said the Los Angeles Lakers' title carries an asterisk because Miami was without Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo was limited for most of the series. 

"I would like to see what it would be like with everybody whole. We'll get our chance again. The Lakers have the greatest player in the game today in LeBron [James] and Anthony Davis," Riley told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. "They beat us fair and square. They were the best team. But there's always going to be asterisk, that caveat. If we had Bam and Goran, Goran was our leading scorer in the playoffs, at 100 percent, it could have gone to seven games or whatever."

Here is where we add our own caveat: I don't think Riley was attempting to demean the Lakers' championship. It seemed like he was attempting to play out a "what if?" scenario in his head, that would plausibly get the Heat to a deciding seventh game.

That said, Riley used the word "asterisk." So let's go there.

It's going to be a short trip.

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The Heat's run through the Eastern Conference included an Indiana Pacers team without Domantas Sabonis, a Milwaukee Bucks team that lost Giannis Antetokounmpo to an ankle injury and a Boston Celtics team that was playing with a missing/limited Gordon Hayward.

Does Riley think the Heat's run to the Finals deserves an asterisk? Doubtful. 

In 2019, the Golden State Warriors lost Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to injuries. In 2015, the Cleveland Cavaliers lost Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving to injuries. If we want to use an example dear to Riley's heart, the 1987 Boston Celtics lost Kevin McHale to a broken foot and all but handed Riley his third NBA championship. 

None of these rings or runs are given asterisks because injuries, as unfortunate as they may be, are part of the risk every team runs. 

We're not going to say Riley has been eating sour grapes, but he's not exactly chewing on sweet ones, either.