MIAMI — Miami Heat President Pat Riley reached his boiling point. He acknowledged that Friday when it came to his "STFU" response a month ago to Boston Celtics executive Danny Ainge's questioning LeBron James' complaints about officiating and hard fouls.
In his first extensive media briefing since July, Riley said he felt no recourse but to issue his harsh, expletive-based rebuke.
"I'll put it this way," Riley said at a podium at AmericanAirlines Arena, "at 211 degrees water is just hot, right? At 212 what happens? It boils. And then when it boils it creates steam, and that steam can move a locomotive. And I think that's sort of what happened."
Riley said he felt Ainge was completely out of place in his criticisms, with James' officiating complaints coming after a game against the Chicago Bulls.
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"I think over the last four years," Riley said of his tenure solely in the Heat's front office, "just observing everybody in the league, I've always wondered why there's always somebody out there that's really willing and ready to weigh in on somebody else's business."
Riley said it was different when he went directly at Jeff Van Gundy at the height of the Heat-New York Knicks rivalry, or at Phil Jackson when Jackson was coaching the Bulls against Riley's Knicks.
"I mean, if I have a direct conflict, whether it was Miami and New York when we were in those battles, those pitched battles, and it was between me and Jeff, or me and Phil, then fine, that's our fight," he said. "Somebody from the outside weighing in on it? I don't think that's right in this league. And I think there's too many people in the league that weigh in on other people's business when they should just take care of their own program."
Riley touched on several other subjects in his 48-minute session:
He said it was relentless requests and texting from Erik Spoelstra that finally got him to agree to sign center Chris Andersen, "That's a Spo addiction the past two years with me."
But he said he did not see a need to add a third point guard, citing that Dwyane Wade was drafted as a point guard.
He remains hopeful of keeping James, Wade, Chris Bosh and a strong supporting cast in place for years to come: "It's doable in this (luxury-)tax economy, but I'm going to leave it to Micky (Arison, the team's owner)."
Yet he acknowledged it will be a tricky proposition: "We don't, as an organization, agree with all aspects of the collective-bargaining agreement."
He said he is getting out of Spoelstra's way for the time being: "He's in his playoff mode, so he's hard to talk to right now."
He said Spoelstra should be named Coach of the Year, "Don't penalize because he has a great team."