The Miami Heat hasn't played the Los Angeles Lakers in over two weeks, but that hasn't stopped the most recent NBA Finals foes from being in the news together. This time, however, the news is of the fake variety.
(Someone should come up with a saying for when the news is fake. I'll think about it and get back to you.)
There are many things that are legendary about Miami Heat president Pat Riley. He's a Hall of Fame head coach with a résumé as long as a CVS receipt. He's a master motivator. His hair is majestic. And his end-of-the-year press conferences are infamous for providing text-alert-level news at a time when there isn't supposed be any news at all.
Well, he did it again. Pat Riley has more people in their feelings during a time when nobody should be thinking about him, the Miami Heat, or a never-ending basketball season.
The drama came when Riley was asked if he ever contemplated what may have happened if Miami hadn't been without Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic for most of the series. Riley gave a long-winded answer about how the Lakers won "fair and square" but mentioned how he thinks things would have been different if the team did have the pair. He said an "asterisk" will forever be placed next to the series for him.
The asterisk is next to the Heat's name, not the Lakers. Their title is legitimate. Our loss has an asterisk [next] to it. The Lakers were the better team. Period.
Unsurprisingly, only the salacious portion of that answer was widely broadcast, making it seem as if Riley was saying the Lakers got lucky and there should be an asterisk next to their NBA title.
It could not be clearer that he was not intending to delegitimize the Lakers' title.
Pat Riley thinks the Finals would've gone to seven games if Bam and Goran were 100% ???? pic.twitter.com/HK1Vopchpu— ESPN (@espn) October 25, 2020
The Heat beat Pacers, Bucks and Celtics teams that weren’t at full strength. They played a Lakers team that wasn’t at full strength. Is this really a road Riley wants to go down? https://t.co/rnIuGFj7oB— Samuel H. Quinn (@SamQuinnCBS) October 25, 2020
To see some random Twitter accounts get carried away is one thing, but to see ESPN completely run wild with a quote with an ellipsis or two added where important context should be was pretty incredible.
They reported fake news. Sad!
Right away, Miami journalists called bullshit. They were literally there and heard Pat Riley with their own ears. The national media was taking a portion of a quote and twisting it into a bullshit pretzel.
Pat Riley, on how his words Friday have been wildly twisted out of context: “The asterisk is next to the Heat’s name, not the Lakers. Their title is legitimate. Our loss has an asterisk (next) to it. The Lakers were the better team. Period.”— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) October 25, 2020
If you’re going to use the quote, use the full quote. He said “that asterisk, that caveat.” Meaning in his mind that “what if” will always be there. That’s not on the Lakers title. It’s on his conscience. https://t.co/b8P04xKTFq— Will Manso (@WillManso) October 25, 2020
In fact, the quote I posted from Riley on Friday includes the words "they beat us fair and square. They were the best team " Not sure why any aggregator or anyone would believe it to be fair to suggest Riley was discrediting LA— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) October 25, 2020
WPLG's Clay Ferraro posted Riley's entire three-minute answer — including the tail end of the question posed by WAXY-AM (790) host Brendan Tobin — on Twitter to provide context and maybe calm everyone the hell down.
So there you have it: Pat Riley didn't say that thing that everyone is all pissed off about. I'm sure there will be equal time and space dedicated to the internet setting the record straight today.
We won't hold our breath for an apology, retraction, or explanation.
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.