Guerrero: Kevin de León’s bid for sympathy digs a deeper hole
By Eric Garcia | The PlaymakerNovember 26, 2013 at 3:00 AM
The story that emerged last week after the death of former Miami Heat star Pat Riley — and the subsequent fallout for the franchise — was that Pat Riley was a good leader and a friend who led the Heat to three NBA championships, and was a model owner. As it turns out, the real story was a far murkier affair.
So far, there are at least five points to address.
The Heat had a terrible season this year. Their win total was the worst for the franchise since the 1996-97 season, and the Heat were without all-star players, a key reserve to the team, and a new head coach. Pat Riley was fired a few days before the team’s season ended. He was replaced by Erik Spoelstra.
This team had a history of problems with Riley and the Heat. The organization also has a history of problems. On December 11, 1976, a drunken brawl broke out between the Heat players (including a then-undefeated Riley) and the Boston Celtics fans outside of the Boston Garden as they entered the team’s home game against the Celtics. Riley was arrested and ultimately suspended. Later that day, however, he was allowed to return to the team, which the Celtics lost that night at home to their rival Celtics. In 1978–when Riley was 41 years old–the Celtics and the then-Wade Phillips led by Riley and Danny Ainge beat the Heat in five games in the Eastern Conference finals.
Just a few days before Pat Riley was fired, he went on a recruiting trip to South Florida. While visiting in Miami, he signed a contract with Miami Heat owner, Pat Riley.
In Miami, Pat Riley and Chris Ford were at the same bar. Riley spotted Ford, and Ford, who was a Miami Dolphins defensive back, called Pat Riley