Heat President Pat Riley fined $25,000 by NBA for comment about LeBron James

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Miami Heat president Pat Riley was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Wednesday for comments made about Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James.

During a Friday streaming event on YouTube hosted by media personality Dan Le Batard, Riley appeared to misinterpret a question about former Heat guard Dwyane Wade and instead believed it was about James, who teamed with Wade on the Heat from 2010 to 2014, helping the team win NBA championships in 2012 and ’13.

In 2016, after free-agency negotiations with Wade broke down and the iconic guard left for his hometown Chicago Bulls, the Heat ran full-page newspaper tributes that featured a celebratory photo of Wade and the wording, “We’ll leave a key under the mat for you. Thank you for 13 unforgettable years. Best of luck in Chicago.”

Riley then was asked Friday about leaving a key out, with Wade having recently joined the ownership group of the Utah Jazz. Riley, instead, took the question as one about James, who left the Heat in 2014 free agency to return to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers and since moved on to the Lakers.

“I never was quoted on that,” Riley correctly noted of the key reference.

He then continued, in a humorous vein, with the video interview conducted while Riley was holding a glass of red wine.

“I would leave the key under the doormat if he would call me and let me know that he’s coming,” he said, referring to James. “I would do that. But I doubt very much that key’s … that key’s rusted now.

“LeBron is, look he’s one of the greatest of all time. And for four years down here, if we want to go back and just remember what those four years were like — four years in the Finals, four years of excitement, two world championships — with LeBron, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Udonis [Haslem], all of them. It was the best time for the Heat.

“So I wish him nothing but the best, and if he ever wanted to come back, then I’ll put a new shiny key under the mat.”

James before this past season signed a two-year $85.7 million extension that keeps him under contract to the Lakers through the 2022-23 season.

After he made his comment about James, Riley even joked about what turned into reality.

“This will just get me fined for tampering,” he said.

In its announcement, the league said, “The NBA announced today it has fined Miami Heat President Pat Riley $25,000 for violating the league’s anti-tampering rule. The fine is in response to comments Riley made during a June 4 radio interview regarding the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James.”

The Heat were defeated by James’ Lakers 4-2 in the 2020 NBA Finals. The Heat and Lakers then were eliminated in the first round of this season’s playoffs.

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