Pat Riley and Danny Ainge faced each other as part of the Los Angeles Lakers-Boston Celtics rivalry, including multiple NBA Finals showdowns. They were on either side of one of the NBA’s biggest ever brawls, the Knicks-Suns blowout of 1993. They coached against each other in the mid-’90s. These guys spent plenty of time opposing one another, but none of that amounted to beef.
But decades into their parallel careers, Riley and Ainge became rival executives — for the Celtics and Miami Heat, respectively — and once provoked, their mutual animus suddenly saw the light of day. Executive beef is a whole other flavor, the stuff of press releases and seemingly pointed transactions like the shocking Ray Allen deal.
This beef took a while to marinate, but for the brief period it flared up, it was pretty funny. Let’s trace the long, quiet buildup that preceded a public tiff for the ages.