MIAMI — Miami Heat president Pat Riley wants everybody to get a grip.
Yes, he’s talking to you, Heat players and members of the organization, fans as well as media.
Riley went on a 55-minute diatribe on Thursday morning at AmericanAirlines Arena, opening with a strong statement and answering questions about the state of the organization after losing the NBA Finals in five games to the San Antonio Spurs.
He proposed a challenge to the "Big 3" who can all become free agents.
”You’ve got to stay together, if you’ve got the guts,” Riley said. ”You don’t find the first door and run out of it if you have an opportunity. This is four years now into this era, this team. Four finals — it’s only been done three other times before — and two championships. From day one to the end, it was like a Broadway show. It sort of ran out of steam. And we need to retool. We don’t need to rebuild. We need to retool.
”And that’s what we’re going to do.”
With 45 years in the NBA, Riley has seen it all: In 1982, his Los Angeles Lakers beat the Philadelphia 76ers but lost the following year. In 1984, the Lakers choked and Magic Johnson was called "Tragic Magic." That inspired the team to bounce back and win it all the next season.
"What really cements a forever bond is going through what we went through this year and staying the course," Riley said.
Of course, Riley is alluding to the fact the Big Three of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade can opt-out of their contracts and take their talents elsewhere. Or they can restructure the deals for less money to bring more talent on board.
Those decisions won’t come until July 1, but it’s clear there will be changes to the roster. What the trio decides will determine course of action around the league.
For the second time in four seasons, Riley held exit meetings with each player. That doesn’t happen after a championship. It’s a way to debrief everyone individually before going separate ways over the summer.
One thing is for certain: Those who return must reinvent themselves, including Wade and coach Erik Spoelstra. Even the 69-year-old Riley said he would try.
But can he and the Heat recreate the magic of the 2010 offseason?
Miami has two trade exceptions, a taxpayer mid-level exception, a first round pick and the 55th pick to work with.
"We’re prepared, we’ve got the main theme, book all written up and it’s dependent on whatever the scenario we’re presented with on July 1," Riley said. "We’ve got a lot of room for flexibility depending on what happens.
"I don’t feel any pressure. We don’t feel any pressure. I’m going to do the best job that I can do. We’re going to do the best job we can do. I don’t think we have to recruit Chris and LeBron and Dwyane again."
Asked whether signing a fourth star player was plausible, Riley didn’t fully turn down the idea, but also seemed to think the organization’s plans would go in a different direction.
Reports began circulating during the NBA Finals that the Heat would try to pursue free agent Carmelo Anthony, who played the past four seasons with the New York Knicks.
"That’s a pipe dream, but everybody thought 2010 was a pipe dream," Riley said. "I don’t harbor that thought being realistic with what we have in front of us. That’s not where we’re headed. That’s a possibility, but that’s not what we’re thinking about today."
After Game 5, Riley sent an e-mail to the team with a storm analogy, hoping to bring solace to a team that couldn’t capture a three-peat.
"The storm’s going to pass, I guarantee you it’s going to pass," Riley said. "Anybody that lives in Miami knows that storms and rain showers pass and the sun can be here in an hour."
In exit interviews, Bosh was definitive about wanting to return. James needs time to think about it. Riley called Wade "Miami Heat for life." Riley wants the core back and to "organically grow from within," much like the Spurs were able to do.
Since the Big Three Era began, James, Wade and Bosh have seen their lives enriched for the better both on and off the court.
Bosh has gotten married and had a couple of kids. James got married to his high-school sweetheart and they are expecting their first girl. Wade will be getting married this summer.
"I’m an Irish guy that believes in big dreams," Riley said. "I’m optimistic until that’s proven different. I just have a level of optimism that there isn’t a better place for players to be than in Miami. They’ve invested heavily in this city for the last four years.
"Players come and go and they retire, but the players who have come and gone with us have stayed here for a long time and always remained part of the family. That’s sort of how I look at that."