The Miami Heat upset the Golden State Warriors Monday night, 105-102, in a game that went down to the wire. That doesn’t say much for their records; however, the Warriors still lead the league at 38-7 while the Heat sit near the bottom at 15-30. By all means, this game was a fluke (GS isn’t going to shoot a paltry 27% from 3-point range every night). Still, it doesn’t diminish the respect Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr has for Miami Heat president Pat Riley.
In a report by the Miami Herald, Steve Kerr has remarked that Riley has “got a big challenge ahead” with regards to rebuilding. The team in South Beach may have the benefit of a decorated NBA veteran like Riley. He’s got all the experience one could ask for. Player, coach, team official – you name it, he’s done it. But that doesn’t mean it will be easy.
A Strong Track Record
“It’s a really hard thing to do,” Kerr said, referring to the task of properly rebuilding a team from the ground up. But, Steve Kerr’s point remains: Riley has done it before.
“He’s done it multiple times with different franchises… I have no idea if he’s going to do it again. They’ve had some really difficult things that have happened to them in the last year or two… I guess when you have the track record of someone like Pat, you probably have more trust from the fans and media. He’s earned as much trust as anyone could possibly have.”
It’s a career history that speaks for itself. As a Head Coach, Riley won the NBA Championship four times in the 1980’s with the Los Angeles Lakers. It was a memorable era of war with the KC Jones’s Boston Celtics. Riley won the championship once more as a Head Coach for the Heat in 2006; then as team president in 2012 and 2013. Between those moments were periods of building the team, gathering the right assets and developing the right players. He’s had his share of first round exits and missing the Playoffs a few times as well.
Who’s there to work with right now? Before the Miami Heat started their 4-game win streak, culminating with the win over the powerhouse Warriors, the Heat had lost 10 of 11. Justise Winslow’s loss certainly hurt. But with signs of life in every recent win, the team can certainly still make a case for their future.
Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside could be two very important pieces (if they don’t get traded). Dion Waiters has had back-to-back 30-point games and could be even more impressive. But the best opportunity the Miami Heat has could be in the 2017 Draft: it’s loaded with strong point guards who could grow to become superstars.
Whether they’ll be able to outdo the Philadelphia 76ers and the Minnesota Timberwolves on the rebuilding track or not is yet to be seen. But Pat Riley’s done it all before, so who’s to say he can’t do it again?