Pat Riley was nothing short of direct Thursday when speaking with the media in his end-of-season press conference. After opening up by telling everyone he was pissed off, Riley delivered a message to Heat Nation.
“I think everybody needs to get a grip. Media, Heat players, organization, all of our fans. You got to get a grip. On greatness and on teams. I’ve been here for 45 years in the NBA and I’ve witnessed dynasties. I’ve witnessed great teams,” Riley told reporters.
“This stuff is hard. You got to stay together… if you got the guts. And you don’t find the first door and run out of it.”
Riley talked about how many of the NBA’s greatest teams and eras—from the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980’s to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls and the recent success of the San Antonio Spurs—didn’t win championships every season. In fact, they didn’t even make it to the finals every season. In the case of this Heat team, it has been four finals appearances in four seasons.
“Get a grip” is Riley’s way of telling fans and players to have some perspective. It matters so that fans don’t turn their back on the team (or just generally freak out and call for a massive rebuild of the team) and so that players have a better understanding of what is realistic even with the best player in the world on their side.
“If you have the guts” is a challenge to everyone involved. Mostly, it’s a challenge to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of the players to bounce back the way the Spurs did and compete for another championship.
Riley has headed one of the most polarizing teams of all time, but unless they have the guts, they might not be considered one of the greatest.