Miami Heat president Pat Riley is trying to do some cleanup on comments he made about the NBA Finals deserving an asterisk.
Riley said he would have liked to see how the NBA Finals would have played out had the Heat had a fully healthy team for them. Key players Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo missed significant time in the Finals due to injuries.
“They beat us fair and squarely,” Riley said, via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. “But there will always be that asterisk; if we had Bam and Goran 100 percent — Goran was our leading scorer (entering the Finals) — it might have gone to a seventh game.”
Critics immediately seized on Riley’s comment, suggesting he was shading the Lakers or refusing to give them credit. On Sunday, Riley tried to clean things up by saying it was the Heat who deserved the asterisk, not the Lakers.
“The asterisk is next to the Heat's name, not the Lakers,” Riley said, via Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press. “Their title is legitimate. Our loss has an asterisk (next) to it. The Lakers were the better team. Period.”
It’s easy to see why Riley’s comments could have been twisted. To a critic, it could look like Riley is saying the Lakers had an easier ride due to Miami’s injuries. Ultimately, not many people are going to remember those injuries years from now.
The good news for Riley and the Heat? The Finals loss, asterisk or not, might pay long-term dividends in its own way.