Pat Riley challenged, entertained, humored, philosophized, lectured, reminisced, cautioned, explained, scolded, proselytized and captivated.
And the Heat president delivered a strongly worded message for Heat superstar LeBron James in the wake of the team's NBA Finals loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
"This stuff is hard. And you got to stay together, if you've got the guts. And you don't find the first door and run out of it," Riley said Thursday at his annual end-of-the-season news conference.
In an impressive rant – it was classic Riles – that covered several topics, including keeping James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh together, sun tans in South Beach, the song Just Once by James Ingram, vinyl records, scotch, the Heat's willingness to pay the NBA's luxury tax, the media and the Spurs.
It was an epic 55-minute performance, a one-man show and Riley, who rarely speaks on the record to news reporters, spewed fire with a preacher's passion. He started the news conference with a nod to the Twitter generation.
"You want to trend something? I'm pissed," Riley said.
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He continued: "I think everybody needs to get a grip. Media, Heat players, organization, all of our fans. You gotta get a grip on greatness and on teams."
The big takeaway: Riley challenged James to stay with Wade and Bosh – both of whom indicated they want to remain with the Heat – and try to win more championships for Miami.
Positive that Wade and Bosh want to stay in Miami, Riley acknowledged James "has the right to do whatever he wants to do" and needs time to get away from basketball to consider his options.
But Riley also said, "I didn't come down here 19 years ago for a quick trip to South Beach and a sun tan. … I don't think they did either."
Riley metaphorically did what James is so good at on the court: He threw a pass and put the ball in James' court.
What is James going to do? Stay or go? Riley implored him to stay by putting the heavy on James. It was a strong-armed tactic.
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But Riley is savvy. He knew what, when and how he wanted to say what he did. It was a well-planned strategy for Thursday's news conference, but it was risky when it came to his best player. Did Riley motivate James or alienate him? Riley doesn't do much without serious consideration so he believes he appealed to James.
"The important thing is we want all three to come back," Riley said.
Riley said Heat owner Micky Arison is not afraid of the punitive luxury tax and "will do anything to get those guys to come back."
Riley didn't rule out the notion of landing a fourth superstar (read: Carmelo Anthony), calling that idea a pipedream while saying 2010 was a pipedream, too.
He said the Spurs looked inward after losing the 2013 Finals to Miami and wants the Heat to do the same. But he knows he needs to add better players. He didn't call it a rebuild. He said Miami needed to retool.
Riley said he drank Johnnie Walker Blue with his wife Chris and spun records listening to "lyrics, quotes, messages … those kind of things."
A sampling of the Ingram's Just Once lyrics:
"I did my best but I guess my best wasn't good enough
'Cause here we are back where we were before
Seems nothing ever changes, we're back to being strangers
Wondering if we ought a stay or head on out the door"
Whether James was watching or not, no doubt he will soon hear the message.
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