Pat Riley has developed a great reputation for his role both on the sidelines as a coach as well as turning into a solid general manager since moving to the front office with the Miami Heat, but he's also known to be a great motivator who says the right thing at the right time. Riley attempted to do that very thing during a press conference on Friday afternoon.
Riley's star player, LeBron James, has gone on a bit of a crusade to clarify that he's not the villain that so many claim him to be. When the team president was asked about expectations this season and how James can shed that villainous role, Riley went zen.
"We all know what this team is capable of doing," Riley said. "We are contenders, I believe that, and that's all we are. There's no sense in putting extra pressure on yourself. But when you get to the moment of truth, you've got to be relaxed. You don't have to be living up to something you said."
That answer was an interesting development, as ESPN's Brian Windhorst pointed out in his column, considering he did almost the exact opposite while with the Los Angeles Lakers nearly 25 years ago.
As he likes to do, Riley followed it up with a story. This one was about when he guaranteed the Lakers would repeat as NBA champions in 1987, that famous clip with Riley at the championship parade in his big sunglasses and his flick of the neck over to his stunned players. Of course, the Lakers did win it again in 1988, otherwise it wouldn't be in the Riley story rotation 23 years later.
Riley guaranteed that title because he was tired of his team coming back "soft" (his word) after winning their previous three titles with him as their coach. That strategy, Riley believes, hit the right tone at the time for those stars and that team.
It remains to be seen whether Riley's comments will connect with LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of the Heat players, but it's always interesting to see what a master motivator has up his sleeve while trying to get the most out of the best basketball players in the world.