Pat Riley clarifies ‘asterisk’ comment: ‘The Lakers were the better team. Period.’

Pat Riley Miami Heat
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“Asterisk” is a loaded word when talking about the NBA Finals, particularly the 2020 bubble Finals. So when Pat Riley used that word in a conference call with reporters Saturday, it made headlines.

Riley clarified what he meant by “asterisk,” saying it is on the Heat, not the Lakers’ title.

For context, here is what the Heat president said in a Zoom call with reporters on Saturday:

“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 and Anthony Davis. They beat us fair and squarely. But there will be, always be, that asterisk; if we had Bam and Goran 100 percent — Goran was our leading scorer — it might have gone to a seventh game.”

How Heat fans and Lakers fans may have read “asterisk” in the original quote was different — not taken out of context or twisted, it was open to interpretation.

Miami’s injuries to Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo absolutely impacted the Finals. That’s also par for the course. Would Toronto have beaten Golden State in 2019 if Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson been healthy? Would Cleveland have come back on Golden State from 3-1 down in 2016 if the Warriors starting center and defensive anchor Andrew Bogut were not injured?

Injuries are part of the Finals. Riley gets that. Those 2020 NBA bubble Finals would have been more interesting with a fully healthy Heat team, but that’s basketball sometimes.