A method to Miami's madness
Miami Heat president and coach
But this idea of scouting for the future draft pick of the Miami Heat is only a facet of Riley's larger equation. Walking out on his team at the end of its worst year is in large part an effort aimed at saving his sanity. He demands more than he can give, which is both his strength and his weakness. Simply, he cannot submit to watching every last-place minute of this disastrous season.
"I think so," agrees Celtics forward
"I know when we lost two in a row when I was on that team, he was brutal. I'm talking about two in a row. ... He's having a lot of sleepless nights. He's not dealing with it that well. He's a winner, and I know he's not dealing with it well at all."
On a number of levels it was an amazing thing to see the league-worst Heat come into Boston last Sunday to play the Celtics, owners of the NBA's best record. All of the familiar pros were around the Miami team -- the front-office staff, the assistant coaches, the athletic trainers who were invaluable to their NBA championship two years ago. They were now serving as escorts to a pickup team of players that had no business playing in NBA buildings to NBA ticket prices. Nineteen months since they were the best club in the world, they are now 13-61 (.176), or four games worse than the Seattle Sonics.
Was the celebration of winning worth the pain they're enduring now? Most NBA teams would accept that exchange -- this is, after all, the most difficult trophy to win in team sports, with the last 27 championships hoarded by eight franchises.
"What you're saying is, if you know you're going to go from top to bottom in two years? A lot of people are going to take that championship," says Celtics forward
Of course it didn't have to end this way. But
Posey disagrees. "I thought I was going back there," says Posey, who insists staying in Miami was his first choice. "It was an opportunity for a lot of us to come back -- Kapono,
Posey believes the Heat could have been inspired after being swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Bulls last year. "We still had a nice core, it would have been nice to go back," he says. "I think this year would have been that much better. We had the best of both worlds: It would have been a wakeup call for us (after last year's sweep) to come out and grind and hustle and rededicate ourselves to try to get another championship."
Instead, the Heat last weekend dressed a rotation that included five players who had been called up from the D-League this season. The Celtics held them to an NBA record-low 17 field goals, or roughly one basket every three minutes.
"You can look at that (Miami) team and also you can look at this (Boston) team," says Posey. "A couple of years ago this team here was the team Miami is right now. That's how things can go."
Two years ago Miami went 52-30 and won the last game of the playoffs. Last year Boston was 24-58 and lost the lottery.
When Riley threw Suns president
One lesson the Miami calamity teaches again is that winners at the elite NBA level -- whether Riley or Shaq -- don't react well to losing. Maybe in a few years Riley will be telling us that the pain of this season was good for him, that it forced him to grow; but he'll only realize that after he's back on the winning side again.
"I was asking some guys who have been around awhile, says Brown, 'What's the worst year you ever had?'
"I look at that 18-64 year and it brought us
The possibility of history repeating in Miami isn't lost on Brown.
"You get [Memphis point guard]
There isn't a team in the league that can't be turned rightside up -- or upside down -- within two years. Look at Miami. Look at Boston. And, next year, look at Miami again.