How the Heat pulled it off

Pat Riley attends a welcoming party for the Miami Heat at the American Airlines Arena on July 9, 2010 in Miami, FL (Photo by Jeff Daly / Meet The Famous) Photo via Newscom

Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer wrote an excellent blow-by-blow account of how the Miami Heat managed to convince LeBron James and Chris Bosh to come to South Florida to team up with Dwyane Wade.

Riley really put the plan into action last November. During a Cavs visit to Miami, Riley arranged a get together with Michael Jordan and James. Jordan, who was in town to do some Nike work with Wade, at the time did not own a majority of the Bobcats.

During the meeting, Riley talked to James about how more modern players should pay homage to Jordan. Riley always had led this effort, retiring Jordan’s No. 23 in the rafters at AmericanAirlines Arena even though Jordan never played in Miami.

The Cavs knew about it, and while it seemed like it could be classic tampering, they decided not to make an issue of it — mostly because the meeting technically wasn’t about free agency.

After the game, and after seeing Jordan and Riley sitting together courtside, James made an emotional statement on the court that he was going to ditch jersey No. 23 out of respect to Jordan. In fact, he felt all players should stop wearing No. 23.

It was controversial and got headlines. Riley probably didn’t care so much about the statement but how his conversation obviously influenced James.

That was a key moment for Riley, but the entire article is worth a read.

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