What’s that? The Heat are back in contention? Start the Pat Riley coup d’etat rumors! Heave! Heave you miserable media writers! Heave!
Pat Riley, though, is having none of it. After the unbearably ridiculous press conference to introduce the Heat, Riley re-asserted what he’s said all along, and what LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have both asserted: Erik Spoelstra is the head coach of the Miami Heat.
Riley has pulled off the greatest feat of his general management career. He’s lifted the Heat from being a first round one-and-done to a championship contender loaded with three All-Stars, in their prime. But his reputation formed from the 2006 Heat Championship run has a shelf-life. And it’s still kicking. Riley usurped the position from Stan Van Gundy that season, sending SVG to contemplate life on a dock while Riley took a suddenly loaded with Shaq Heat team to an unlikely Finals win and Wade’s first championship.
Spoelstra has less weight to stand against pressure from Riley. Spoelstra has been in the organization for 15 years, coming up from a video coordinator to head coach. He’s been under Riley for over a decade. He hasn’t been head coach for long, at least not with the Heat in contention, and now he’s got a trio of superstars who hold all the power in this situation.
If for any reason this conglomeration of talent doesn’t immediately succeed, you’re going to see a lot of unrest, and someone will take the blame. It may look like Spoelstra has an easy job ahead of him, but in reality, the first sign of trouble, and the sharks will be in the water holding “Will Riley take over?!” signs.