In a new book, Pat Riley opened up about his relationship with LeBron James.
Miami Heat president Pat Riley was initially upset after LeBron James left Miami for Cleveland in 2014, but he eventually came to understand the star forward's decision, according to excerpts of a new book obtained by ESPN.
"I had two to three days of tremendous anger. I was absolutely livid, which I expressed to myself and my closest friends," Riley says in Ian Thomsen's The Soul of Basketball, according to ESPN.
Riley also says in the book that he believes LeBron's Heat could have won five or six championships in 10 years. But even though he was disappointed when James returned to Cleveland, Riley eventually felt his star forward made the right move.
"While there may have been some carnage always left behind when he made these kinds of moves, in Cleveland and also in Miami, he did the right thing," Riley says in The Soul of Basketball. "I just finally came to accept the realization that he and his family said, 'You'll never, ever be accepted back in your hometown if you don't go back to try to win a title. Otherwise someday you'll go back there and have the scarlet letter on your back. You'll be the greatest player in the history of mankind, but back there, nobody's really going to accept you.'"
Riley and James have not spoken to each other since LeBron's decision to return to Cleveland, ESPN reports. However, Riley said he did contact him during Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, when Cleveland ended their title drought against the mighty Golden State Warriors.
"I didn't want to send him anything that he could read before he hit the floor," Riley said. "As soon as he hit the floor, I sent a text to him. I said, 'Win this and be free.' He never got back to me with a response."
The Soul of Basketball, which covers James's decision to join the Heat and the aftermath of the 2010-11 NBA season, will be released on April 17.