During the offseason, Pat Riley met with LaMarcus Aldridge in an effort to lure him to the Heat. However, his pitch had the unintended consequence of steering him to the Spurs instead, according to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Heat didn't have the cap space to sign Aldridge last summer, but Riley was hoping he would sign a one-year contract and wait until the following year before committing long term to a new franchise. That way, Miami could have been a possible destination. Other reports suggest he actually wanted Aldridge to sign for the mid-level exception and play for the Heat this year.
Regardless of the details of the plan, the central theme of Riley's pitch to Aldridge was that he should make a sacrifice to join a franchise that had the players who could help him contend for a championship, something that the Suns -- at that point an unlikely front-runners to land his services -- couldn't offer.
Riley's message resonated with Aldridge, just not in the way the Heat's president intended:
"Riley made a case to Aldridge that turned out to be an immense blessing for the franchise that had obliterated the Heat in the 2014 NBA Finals. As the idea of joining the Suns gained real momentum, Riley's message would go a long, long way toward validating the Spurs' cause. Truth be told, Riley's words resonated as deeply with Aldridge as anyone's in the process.
"He told me, ‘You're a good player, but you can be great,' " Aldridge told Yahoo. "I've had good seasons on my own, but to win, you've got to have other big-time guys with you. When you have other guys who are willing to take that sacrifice with you - maybe you all go from averaging 23-24 points to 18-19 points - and you can all do it together.
"He was saying, ‘Hey, you might have to take a lesser role, but at the end of the day, you want to be known as a champion. Champions have to do different things.'"
Not many remember it now, but Aldridge had some doubts about joining the Spurs following his first meeting with them, according to an interview he gave USA Today's Sam Amick.
"Maybe I'm not a Spur," Aldridge told assistant coach Ime Udoka. "Because I've been averaging 23 (points per game) for the last three to four years, and maybe I don't fit into y'all's system of let's all average 17 (points per game)."
The Suns got into the mix by selling Aldridge on being the face of the franchise, while the Spurs made no such promises in their first meeting. Before Aldridge met with Gregg Popovich for a second time, Riley had essentially assuaged his doubts and convinced him to sign with San Antonio already. They made it official soon after.
The Spurs played a huge part on breaking up the championship team Riley put together by beating them in the 2014 Finals, which resulted in LeBron James leaving Miami. While Riley was trying to bounce back from that huge blow, he inadvertently extended San Antonio's championship window by making the perfect pitch at the wrong time.
Sometimes being as persuasive as Riley has its drawbacks.
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SB Nation presents: The Spurs' offseason extends their dynasty