As this was being typed, I saw the most unprofessional, childish, and self-righteous response to last night's events that I have ever seen in my entire life. The sympathy I had for Cleveland losing LeBron is out the window, thanks to the letter submitted on the Cavs website by Majority Owner Dan Gilbert. Even now, this is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen from an owner of a professional organization. Let’s just leave it there for now, because this isn’t even about that clown, and this post needs to remain profanity-free. Moving on…
Miami’s truly got it made now. From the outset, they have three young players in their prime, along with a good young coach in Erik Spolestra. Some people think Pat Riley’s going to come right in and save the day, but something tells me Riley has the ability to use his Don Corleone powers in a way that will be even bigger than what we initially think. Pat Riley now has the challenge of grooming Spolestra into the next Michael Corleone.
This is what we know: Erik Spolestra is a good, solid young coach. He’s got the support of Dwyane Wade, who’s been in Miami and has already played for him. Chris Bosh and LeBron will fall in line, and give Spolestra an opportunity to coach them, and show what he can do. Why would it make sense for Pat Riley to leave the confines of the front office, to come back down and do the heavy lifting of coaching the team on a daily basis again? There’s enough of a parallel in The Godfather that gives Pat Riley the blueprint on how to make this work.
In the movie, we saw as The Don's condition deteriorated, Michael eventually became The Don, because he saw something in Michael that Fredo didn’t have, and he also knew Sonny was too much of a hot-head, which we saw from the way he got blasted at the toll way. Hell, Riley basically let Sonny, aka Stan Van Gundy, run the show the first year the Heat got Shaq, and as soon as it didn’t work, Riley moved him out of the way, and got right back on the bench. Even though it worked then, and despite the fact that Pat Riley can do no wrong, I really don’t want to see him remove this young man.
Riley can groom Spolestra, and let the players know he is in charge, and that he has full confidence in the young man. Remember in The Godfather when The Don gave Michael the title, and the same cats who were under The Don all those years got moved around? The Don told Tom, Clemenza, and Tessio to trust Michael. That’s exactly what needs to happen here. There doesn’t need to be any running to Riley for answers when there’s tension; they’d have to go to Spolestra, aka Michael, no questions asked. There’s a lot of lip service going on right now, from all parties, but the real test will be behind closed doors. If Riley is willing to do this for Spolestra, then all the talk people have of Miami getting to The Finals next year makes sense. Not only will they make The Finals next year, they’ll be there for years and years to come, but the only way that will happen is if Riley, aka The Don, lets Spolestra be Michael and do his job in his own way.
On the court, they will be fine. The three of these cats are friends, and they won’t have issues deferring to each other on the court. They’ll have to find a way to keep the media and other folks from trying to infiltrate what they have going on, and if they do, they’ll be straight. We’re witnessing something historic, from the standpoint that all three players are currently in their prime. Plus, they’re willing to sacrifice for the betterment of team. For all the stuff people say about young players not willing to do that, and only being worried about number one, this is refreshing.
As for LeBronapalooza as a whole, this was something that was so playa, so gangsta, such a power move, and had so much juice that even a blind man could see it. LeBron James had the world in the palm of his hand, and literally kept everyone guessing until he finally announced he was going to Miami. He’s taking a big risk by doing this, and in turn, will set another trend to re-define how people view a player’s legacy, by going to play with two stars, instead of staying in Cleveland, and trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.
For the record, I don’t blame him for doing this, and remain convinced that he and Cleveland did the best they could. Sometimes, your best isn’t enough, and he did what he had to do. All that aside, players should take notes and look at how he played the system. Let these owners, general managers, and other higher-ups wine and dine you, and take creative measures to market yourself the best way possible. Sure, some of it was self-serving, but it was also unprecedented. Players have juice, and this is the prototype.
One thing is definitely certain: next season can’t get here soon enough. It’s on now.
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