Last night, I was listening to the Heat-Bulls game on satellite radio, so I got a little taste of the Chicago perspective. And the commentators didn't dissapoint. They talked about how Heat defenders seemed to be standing around aimlessly. They mused about how it was no wonder there were so many empty seats. They said the Heat was the worst-looking franchise they'd seen all season.
They were literally laughing at the Heat -- and this was before the of the first quarter, before the Bulls eventually whipped Miami by 30 points at American Airlines Arena.
Oh, and they talked about Pat Riley, too, observing that he was pacing up and down the sidelines as if wondering what in the world he might do to keep this ship from sinking. After the game, Riley basically confirmed that the broadcasters were dead right, saying, "I have no answers."
That's it. Time for Pat to go. Again.
Riley's latest deer-in-the-headlights look was predictable. Take away the championship year (when he stole the team from Stan Van Gundy and watched Dwyane Wade carry the team on his back to glory) and Riley's coaching has been an abomination since Charlotte (led by former Miami players Jamal Mashburn and P.J. Brown) obliterated the top-seed Heat in the first round of the 2001 playoffs.
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When he finally fired himself and put Stan Van Gundy in charge, the team had new life -- along with Wade, who blossomed under Van Gundy. Then came the gruesome charade where the Heat organization pressured Van Gundy to quit (under the guise he wanted to spend more time with his kids -- a ludicrous excuse that the local press ate up).
This train wreck of a year could have been avoided, even with Riley as coach. The Pulp said so after last season's sweep by the Bulls: Dump Shaq. It was obviously time. But the local sports press (I'm looking your way Greg Cote and Dave Hyde) got it dead wrong and advocated keeping the big fella.
I had one other must (other than holding onto Wade): Keep James Posey. Of course, Riley kept Shaq and promptly sent Posey to Boston. Now, you can say what you will about Boston's Big Three, but I'm telling you now that Posey is the guy that will give the Celtics a real chance to win a championship. Why? Because Posey has that beautiful combo that every championship team needs: A guy who can play gorgeous D while knocking down the 3.
Bottom line is Riley is a dead-tired coach who lost his way a long time ago. And this year Wade won't be his savior. Wade isn't Wade this year. Too many injuries and too many commercials have doomed "Flash" (how long has it been since you heard that one?) this season. Hopefully he'll regroup next year, along with a new supporting cast -- and, of course, a new coach.