In what Miamians will likely peg as Bill Simmons’ greatest column in the history of the Sports Guy, his latest piece on The Ringer centers around Pat Riley in his quest to land Kevin Durant.
A couple weeks back, Simmons actually spoke of his fear that Durant would be swayed by Riley to join the Heat.
This column hovers on the same theme, but dropped an interesting nugget along the way, how a chance encounter on a Malibu beach with Kevin Garnett might’ve actually convinced KG to sign off on a trade to the Celtics (similar to what happened with LaMarcus Aldridge and the Spurs last summer). For Riley, his reputation is everything, and he’s always playing the long game.
As for Riley’s task at luring Durant this weekend, Simmons refuses to count Miami out.
Well, if Whiteside bolts and Chris Bosh’s medical situation doesn’t get resolved, we’re looking at another Heat teardown — one that won’t be nearly as easy with Wade, astonishingly, turning 35 next January. That would be the perfect time for Riley to slide out the back door, head to the beach and disappear, Johnny Carson–style, with his nine rings. Of course, he’s still Pat Freaking Riley. Which means we can’t rule out Whiteside’s return, or a Blake Griffin trade, or even a certain 2014 MVP. Everything is in play. Everything.
On Friday night, news broke that Miami landed one of the six coveted meetings with Durant, the biggest free-agent prize since 2010. For years and years and years, Pat Riley simply wanted to get in the room with someone like that — bring the rings, bring the charm, bring the swagger, let the reputation do the rest. Maybe he won’t need to hustle off his deck screaming, “KEVIN! KEVIN!” this time. But he’s definitely staring out at the ocean again. We gaze out to the water and see water. Pat Riley sees titles. I wouldn’t count out Miami for Kevin Durant.