by Brett Edwards and Craig Kwasniewski
To the surprise of no one, Pat Riley has returned to coach the Miami Heat for at least the rest of this season. The rumors of this happening started in the off-season, when Riles stated on the record that he wanted to become "more involved" in the team's day-to-day operations. YAYSports! has a funny liveblog of the press conference, check it out.
Pat Riley is a total prick. He ran this team into the ground, going from 52 wins in 2000 to 50 in '01, 36 in '02, and 25 in '03. He then started the 2003-04 season by bailing on the team right before the season started, leaving Van Gundy to clean up the mess. And clean it up he did, finishing with a winning 42-40 record and the 4 seed in the East. In his second season, Stan Van Jeremy led the team to within one game of the NBA Finals, and some would argue (not I) that they would have won the game 7 with a totally healthy Dwyane Wade. Now, he appears to have been forced out (no way we're believing the "time with my family" crap) to make way for Riley's ego to run the show.
Speaking of last year's game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, remember Shaq's not-so-subtle comments about Stan's coaching? How they surely would have won had he gotten the ball more? Be careful what you wish for, fat man. Riley is known for 3-hour practices, a slow-it-down half court offense, being overly stressed out, and micro-managing games with too many time outs. This is not Phil Jackson. Riles will not stroke your ego for not playing defense and not rebounding. Riles is a game-to-game coach and not a season coach like Jackson. Meaning that, Jackson will lose games in November, December, and January as long as the team grows as a unit. Just look at how well the Lakers, WITH ABSOLUTELY NO TALENT, are playing now. They lost some really bad games early, but Profit, Cook and other bullshit players are now contributing.
Riley will not put up with these early losses. They have already lost 10 out of their first 21 games, and are 8 games back in the loss column behind the 15-2 Pistons for home court advantage. The question is, will Riley snap when Antoine Walker goes 2-17, J-Will takes running 3-pointers and plays no defense, and Shaq mails it in until April? Maybe, maybe not, but either way this team is in for a real awakening.