Heat president of basketball operations Pat Riley spoke to the media on Wednesday about LeBron James' decision to leave Miami to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, quotes that were transcribed by Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.
Riley said the team was "shocked" to hear of James' news that he would be returning to Cleveland, but the Heat president said the team has recovered and believes Miami is still a contender in the Eastern Conference. James announced his decision earlier in July via an essay he penned for SI.com, in which he explained his rationale for leaving Miami and returning to Cleveland.
More quotes via Winderman:
On James' departure
"You recover. I don't want to go back in history, but after 45 years of being in the league, I think I've been around 15 transcendent players that walked out the door . . . and you move on. That's what happens. We were shocked, but we recovered. "It was a tough blow to take, but we've recovered very well, and I think we will continue to recover."
Of beginning free agency with a plan of rebuilding around James:
"I went in with the notion that he was coming back. So I was selling it to players. I let him know that prior to free agency, that was the direction I was going. He never said to me, 'Don't do that.' "I don't think I was misled. But I don't think I was encouraged either. That's business."
Of his emotional diatribe at season's end, after the Heat got blown out in the NBA Finals 4-1 by the San Antonio Spurs when he appeared to call out James for even thinking about leaving:
"I don't think I was emotional. I told you I was pissed. . . . I wasn't thinking that at all. My message that day was borne out of just getting beat by a great team."
Of possibly being hurt by James' decision:
"I don’t get hurt. Very rarely do I get hurt. My wife will hurt me. My daughter might hurt me. And my son. But this is business."
Of believing James would stay when he left his meeting with James in Las Vegas two days before James' decision:
"There wasn't anything in that meeting that told me that wasn't going to happen."
- Marc Weinreich