But even after a contentious ending with O'Neal in 2008…

But even after a contentious ending with O’Neal in 2008 that left the two sniping, Riley says at a moment such as this, with O’Neal about to be enshrined in Springfield, Mass., it is essential to appreciate the magnitude of the moment when O’Neal arrived in July 2004. “The seminal moment,” Riley says, “to really make us really, really legitimate. He turned our franchise around. He gave us real legitimacy.”

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If the 71-year-old Riley can’t connect with someone like Whiteside, much less LeBron, does that mean it’s time? Are we looking at Pat Riley’s last stand? Well, if Whiteside bolts and Chris Bosh’s medical situation doesn’t get resolved, we’re looking at another Heat teardown — one that won’t be nearly as easy with Wade, astonishingly, turning 35 next January. That would be the perfect time for Riley to slide out the back door, head to the beach and disappear, Johnny Carson–style, with his nine rings. Of course, he’s still Pat Freaking Riley. Which means we can’t rule out Whiteside’s return, or a Blake Griffin trade, or even a certain 2014 MVP. Everything is in play. Everything.
And Riley, more than the other three, was an opportunist — he never stopped looking for a better situation or another advantage. Riley was blessed with Popovich’s attention to culture and Jackson’s savviness for aligning with special players, but really, the dude has been more Auerbachian than he’d ever admit. We remember Auerbach as an insane competitor who never stopped looking for the next edge. Sound familiar? Once upon a time, Riley despised Auerbach’s Celtics so much that, during one mid-’80s practice at Boston Garden, he asked his trainer to dump the Lakers’ water barrel because he actually feared Auerbach had tried to poison it. But Auerbach is the only other NBA executive in 70 years, dead or alive, who could have pulled off LeBron and Bosh in the summer of 2010. Nobody else had enough foresight or charisma. It’s two people and two people only.
"You have to understand, it is so much different in Miami than everywhere else," said Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who played seven years with James in Cleveland before joining him in Miami for a season. "Cleveland is part of the mainstream of the NBA. In Miami, there is one man in charge and that is Pat Riley and everyone falls into line from there. It's very simplified for you. There is one way to do things, his way."
A lover of practical jokes, Gilbert once wanted to dummy up a fake news release that the Cavs were signing Dennis Rodman to a 10-day contract and put it out on April Fools' Day; he was talked out of that one. After a playoff victory over the Washington Wizards 10 years ago, Gilbert had a remote-controlled fart machine installed under coach Mike Brown's seat. When Brown went up to the dais for the postgame news conference, Gilbert stood in the back and worked the controls. Brown was flummoxed -- although the microphones didn't pick up the sounds.
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Goran Dragic talked to the Slovenian press before Saturday’s prep game against Montenegro and explained his motivation about his return to the Slovenian national team. “I predict the semi-finals, but then anything is possible”, said a smiling Dragic, who is ready to defend the title he won together with a young Luka Doncic back in 2017. However, after five years things are different and Dragic understands it: “In my opinion, I will play a little less minutes, it will not be at that level. I don’t know how much I played, 36 minutes per game? Everything will depend on how I feel. The role will definitely be different. I was Batman, but now I’ll be Robin. The most important thing will be to make sure we have good chemistry and be a leader on the court and lift guys up when it’s most difficult. My role remains the same, Luka’s may have changed a bit more, but I believe that everyone has their own role in the national team and that there will be no problems. We all understand each other, we are one big team, and that’s why we can make a good result. That chemistry is what other teams don’t have.”
Dragic had also to convince the Chicago Bulls to let him play, something that was not ideal for them: “When I had a medical exam with Chicago and sat down with them, they said I’d rather not play. I said I’d rather and in the end it’s the player who decides. I had to go to Chicago, undergo a medical examination and everything else. When you go to a medical examination, you always wait for the results, because you never know what can happen”.