Lebron played his decision on returning to Cleveland very close to the breast, so close even Pat Riley had no idea that LeBron was leaving especially when he talked to Lebron about how he was going to sell Miami to potential free agents.
”I went into it with the thought and the notion that he was coming back and I was selling that to players,” Riley said. ”I believed that firmly so I was selling that to players. And that’s the only way I went into it. I let him know that. . He never said to me, ‘No, don’t do that.”’
”We are up to the challenge,” Riley said. ”We’re going to be as competitive as anybody, I think, in the Eastern Conference. I feel great, right now, today, making sure that we got Chris signed, got him under contract, and got D-Wade back and Udonis (Haslem) and the core of our foundation and we’ll go from here.”
Before he announced his decision, James and his inner circle summoned Riley and Heat general manager Andy Elisburg to Las Vegas for a meeting.
Riley and Elisburg left believing they had done well.
A day later, James was meeting with Sports Illustrated, collaborating on the first-person essay that would come out and announce his decision to return to Cleveland. The Heat were told of the contents of that essay moments before it was released publicly.
”I don’t get hurt,” Riley said. ”This is business. This is all business. As soon as something happens in this business, I had to react, we had to react as an organization, and we did.”
That’s all well and good but you have to wonder would Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh have opted out of their former deals to take the deals they current signed for now if they knew Lebron was heading back to Cleveland?