MIAMI - Heat president Pat Riley spoke affably with the media after receiving the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award and said that he has no intentions of coaching again.
There has been speculation for two years that Riley would take over for coach Erik Spoelstra whenever the Heat had a losing streak. But Riley said Tuesday night before the Heat’s 104-98 win in Game 4 of the NBA Finals that he has the utmost confidence in Spoelstra and is comfortable in his executive seat.
“I don’t really miss it,’’ he said of coaching. “I feel it in the gut right now, like anybody else, but we have a very, very good young coach, who’s growing by leaps and bounds. I did 30 years [of coaching]. That’s enough. ’’
Riley spent three years clearing salary cap space to sign LeBron James and Chris Bosh and re-sign Dwyane Wade in the biggest free agent bonanza in league history. The Heat have reached consecutive Finals under his guidance. Spoelstra has received his share of criticism during the Big Three tenure, but appears secure regardless of whether the Heat win the title this season.
“I didn’t make the shadow, I just did what I did as a coach, and somebody was talking to me today about whether or not [Spoelstra] gets too much criticism or too much credit,’’ Riley said. “And thank God he’s in the criticism and credit world, because in the middle of that he’s got incredible respect from within this organization, incredible respect.’’
Riley said their relationship is close. Spoelstra said he consults with Riley often but Spoelstra has more decision-making power than is perceived.
“We collaborate. And I feel very privileged that at times he will ask me, ‘Well, what do you think?’ And I’ll give him my opinion. But there isn’t anybody who wants him to succeed more than I because I want this franchise to win, and I think he’s the right man for it.’’
Serge Ibaka made waves Monday by telling the Palm Beach Post that James is “not a good defender’’ and he could not defend Oklahoma City superstar Kevin Durant for 48 minutes. James told reporters Tuesday morning that Ibaka’s comments were stupid.
Ibaka knew no English when drafted by the SuperSonics/Thunder in 2008 and said his comments were the byproduct of language issues. Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks refused to play into the firestorm the comments instigated.
“I don’t think anybody can guard the two best offensive players in the game one on one,’’ said Brooks. “You need a solid defender and you need a very good team defense behind it.’’