Riley's return to Heat bench is inevitable

BY Jason Whitlock • November 24, 2010

I’m starting to think Pat Riley is as needy as a 24-year-old stripper, addicted to the drama, the dysfunction and the lust of wealthy men willing to make it rain.

I’m starting to think Pat Riley is enjoying this, the implosion of the team Dwyane Wade built, LeBron James swallowing Erik Spoelstra whole and the growing chorus of opinion-makers calling for Riley to return to the Heat bench.

Yeah, I’m starting to think Pat Riley wants to write another final chapter, a tale that could put his face alongside Red Auerbach’s and Phil Jackson’s on the Mount Rushmore of NBA movers and shakers.

Phil Jackson thinks it, too. Why else would the 11-time champion, coach of the Lakers and Zenmaster chime in on the Miami Mess?

“The scenario that sits kind of behind the scene,” Jackson said Tuesday during a radio interview, “is that eventually these guys that were recruited — Bosh and James —- by Pat Riley and Micky Arison, the owner, are going to come in and say, ‘We feel you (Riley) can do a better job coaching the team. We came here on the hopes that this would work.’ And whatever, I don’t know. That’s kind of my take on it, is that eventually if things don’t straighten out here soon, it could be the Van Gundy thing all over again.”

Let me translate that: Quit pretending you don’t want to coach this team, Riles. We know you do.

“I think a lot of people are looking at (the Heat) kind of hoping things go wrong instead of hoping things go right because of the way they were formed,” Jackson said on the radio, referring to NBA fans, players and executives around the league.

But let me provide an alternate interpretation of Jackson’s comment: Riley is hoping things go wrong so he can ride in, save the day and receive much of the glory.

Why do I believe this?

Because from the moment LeBron James announced he was moving his massive ego to South Beach, Pat Riley has sat passively and watched Bebe’s kids — James, Wade and Bosh —- conduct themselves in a fashion Riley knew wouldn’t create a championship environment.

Seriously, Wade, James and Bosh rising from beneath a stage, screaming, preening and dancing long before the Heat won an exhibition game? The introduction of the Big Three violated just about every core principle Riley holds sacred.

But there Pat Riley was, gushing and clapping like all the other sheep who value style over substance.

Riley knows his young coach, Erik Spoelstra, is struggling to get his message across to James and Bosh. Riley knows he could assist Spoelstra by publicly and loudly telling James and Bosh to grow the hell up and shut the *&#$ up.

They’ve won nothing. They know next to nothing about what it really takes to win a championship.

Bosh thinks the team needs more “chill” time. LeBron thinks he needs fewer minutes and more freedom to dance, shuck and jive. These guys still think they’re in high school and an NBA title requires the same level of commitment and sacrifice as Ohio and Texas state titles.

There’s a good chance Spoelstra doesn’t have the necessary charisma to reach the Big Three, bend them to his will and train them to compete at Kobe’s level.

Great teams reflect their coach. The players repeat his message in their interactions with the media. Bosh and James sound nothing like Spoelstra. They sound like a couple of spoiled kids who thought this was going to be easy.

They wanted to take a shortcut to greatness and multiple championships. They reflect the values of their generation. They’d rather be famous for being famous than famous for their accomplishments.

The Big Three free-agent decision is the equivalent of Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton and Bristol Palin agreeing to film a porno. Check that. I’d support that project wholeheartedly and would sit through several one-hour, Jim Gray-hosted infomercials about how the deal came together.

Jim Gray: “Paris, will you allow Kim and Bristol to bite your toenails?”

Where was I?

Oh, yes, Spoelstra’s lack of chops for this difficult assignment. Maybe he doesn’t have what it takes to coach this team. If he had the necessary swagger, he would’ve already publicly checked James and Bosh. Surely Spoelstra knows there’s no championship upside in kissing James’ butt. Mike Brown tried that.

Or maybe all Spoelstra needs is a push and some real support from his alleged mentor, Riley?

Sitting in the stands taking notes isn’t support. It’s preparation for a takeover. It’s a signal to James and Bosh that Riley is ready to step in whenever they get tired of getting embarrassed and want to get down to the serious business of pursuing a title.

I’m starting to think Pat Riley is in the champagne room just waiting for the Big Three to join him.

E-mail Jason or follow him on Twitter. Media requests for Mr. Whitlock should be directed to Fox Sports PR.