Minutes away from another Boston Celtics–Miami Heat showdown, all seems quiet on the basketball front for a game featuring the return of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Lebron James. This sounds pretty typical for a meaningless late season game without Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, except for the fact that what little bit of hype that exists surrounds one man and one statement.
“Danny Ainge needs to shut the f— up and manage his own team.” said Pat Riley in a statement.
While most of the media chalked up his month-old statement as another wrinkle in the Celtics-Heat rivalry, I saw it as another one of his clever mind games. A motivational speech if you will.
We’ve all heard the stories of Riley dumping his head into a bucket of ice water for several minutes just to show his team how close you have to be to your last breath to win, or his elaborate presentations to get the Big Three to Biscayne Bay and taking less money while doing it. But what most people never noticed is how early he planted the seeds for moves like the Big Three.
Seven months prior, during a nationally televised game, Riley set the mood perfectly.
It was November 13, 2009, Heat verses the Cleveland Cavaliers, Lebron James verses Dwyane Wade. With all of TNT’s cameras watching, he sat Michael Jordan by his side and Scottie Pippen dead center in the front row. The puppet-master was showing James and Wade the greatest one-two tandem that they could become.
His shot at Ainge was no different. It had one purpose — to show James his loyalty, in hope that he shows it back when it’s time for free agency. A veiled plea from an NBA mastermind.
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Richard Nurse is a Miami Heat columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @blackirishpr.