Originally written on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 12/5/12

It goes without saying that Miami Heat team president Pat Riley thinks very highly of LeBron James. He brought LeBron to South Beach and was rewarded with an NBA championship a year later. Now that the monkey is off King James’ back and the Heat have won a ring with him, the possibilities are endless. But even before LeBron captured his first Larry O’Brien Trophy, Riley had already given him the ultimate compliment. From Lee Jenkins Sports Illustrated story naming LeBron the 2012 Sportsman of the Year: Pat Riley stood in the mouth of the tunnel at Boston’s TD Garden (before Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals), between the court and the locker room, and waited for the Boat. That’s what he calls LeBron James — “You know,” Riley explains, “best of all time” — an acronym he conjured to remind the planet’s preeminent basketball player of frontiers still to be conquered. “Hey, Boat,” Riley will say. “How is the Boat doing today?” James will reflexively laugh and shake his head because he is not the Boat, at least not yet. Whether he agrees with Riley or not, it would seem evident that LeBron enjoys having his ego stroked. He dropped 45 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in Game 6, all on a night where the Heat were facing elimination and the prospect of LeBron’s critics growing by an infinite amount was staring him right in the face. LeBron may be the most talented player in the NBA, but until he wins multiple championships he will never be considered the best of all time. As Kobe Bryant so courteously reminded him, one is hardly enough. Two won’t be, either, given how many Kobe and Michael Jordan have. As we mentioned before, James proved last season that he should no longer be criticized for not being clutch. That doesn’t mean he’s anywhere close to being the “Boat” just yet. Photo credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

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