Pat Riley never dissuaded from the belief that LeBron James would return to the Miami Heat in free agency, even when the two met in Las Vegas before James announced his decision to join the Cleveland Cavaliers.
”I went into it with the thought and the notion that he was coming back,” Riley said, “and I was selling that to players, I believed that firmly, so I was selling that to players. And that’s the only way I went into it. I let him know that. He never said to me, ‘No, don’t do that.’ ”
“I don’t think I was misled. But I don’t think I was encouraged either. That’s business.”
Riley said he did not hear from James during the free agent process.
“I sent him a lot of emails and texts,” Riley said. “I was communicating a lot with him. No response.”
Riley then turned his focus to making the Heat a contending team.
“There wasn’t anything in that meeting that told me that wasn’t going to happen,” Riley said of the anticipated return by James. “I’ve moved on quickly from that, ‘We are going to build another championship team and that’s it.’
“This business, as we find it, is tough. Sometimes you have those tough calls and sometimes things happen to you that you don’t like but you’ve got to move on.
“The process didn’t take anything out of me other than this one notion: You have a chance to build a generational team. . . . That chain has been broken prematurely. We are going to try to make it another generational team. That’s what my objective is.”