Marc Stein on Miami Heat’s Pat Riley: ‘I Won’t Doubt Him Again’

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In more than two decades of running the Miami Heat, team president Pat Riley has helped construct rosters that have helped the franchise win all three of their NBA titles.

Despite those achievements, Riley still has his critics, though one NBA insider is not among them.

Marc Stein of the New York Times appeared on the “Five Reasons” podcast and explained why the first of the Heat’s titles helped change his mind about Riley’s executive abilities:

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“I am still scarred by ’06, when I questioned Riley in print week after week after week and did not believe in that roster construction at all. Can’t forget how throughout the regular season, that team, they lost every single game against any decent team and then put it all together in the playoffs and he won his championship and, you know, I’ve been scared to question the man ever since. Even though we’re basically talking 15 years later.”

After having coached the Heat for eight previous seasons, Riley began the 2005-06 campaign in his third year exclusively as a team executive. However, he resumed head coaching duties after Stan Van Gundy resigned on Dec. 12, 2005. Van Gundy left with the Heat sporting an 11-10 record, with Riley leading them to a 41-20 mark over the remainder of the regular season.

Once the postseason began, the Heat dispatched both Chicago and New Jersey before dethroning the defending Eastern Conference champion Detroit Pistons. That set up a meeting in the Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, with the Heat charging back to win four straight games after dropping the first two contests.

The main components of that particular Heat roster were the duo of veteran center Shaquille O’Neal and third-year guard Dwyane Wade. The remainder of the roster was filled with journeymen and aging veterans like Alonzo Mourning and Gary Payton.

The current roster for the Heat has a hole that needs to be replaced after Wade’s retirement among other concerns. Contract matters currently restrict the moves that Riley can make, but he’ll have greater financial flexibility in July 2020. Whether or not Riley can work his magic again when that time arrives remains to be seen.
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Brad Sullivan is a freelance writer for, having been an avid fan of NBA basketball for more than four decades. During that time, he's watched the Heat evolve from gestation period to expansion team all the way to three-time NBA champions. He'll follow their quest toward again reaching those lofty heights, and do so by offering some perspective along the way.