LeBron James is widely considered to be the second greatest player in NBA history on the back of an illustrious career that is now 18 seasons and counting. Many believe that he may even be in the running for the title that Michael Jordan holds as the game’s greatest player. LeBron's astonishing combination of strength, speed, and savvy could result in career totals of over 40 thousand points and 10 thousand assists giving him career numbers that would even leave His Airness impressed.
No one looked better in year 18, and even with the high ankle sprain sustained late in the regular season, there seem to be little to no questions regarding LeBron’s durability after a full offseason of rest. Interestingly enough, LeBron is set to become a free agent in the summer of 2023, and apparently, Miami Heat President Pat Riley is already making moves.
“I would leave the key under the doormat if he would call me and let me know that he’s coming. I would do that, but I doubt very much that key… That key is rusted now…. So I wish him nothing but the best, and if he ever wanted to come back, I’ll put a new shiny key under the mat.”
Pat Riley, Dan Lebatard Show
This statement earned Riley a 25 thousand dollar fine for tampering but consequently also sent waves around the league as these comments can seem surprising to someone who witnessed the bitter end of LeBron and Riley’s relationship in 2014. Nevertheless, LeBron is considered a Heat legend, and fellow Heat legend Dwyane Wade, who had left Miami and eventually returned to retire there, had this to say about the choice words of his former boss.
“That’s Pat Riley doing Pat Riley things.”
Dwyane Wade, The Jump
Given the way Miami’s season ended, this could be merely Pat Riley reminiscing about the good old days with LeBron and a team that went to four straight NBA finals. However, we know Pat Riley to be a master strategist, especially when it comes to winning ball games and recruiting players. There is another person in the league right now who is good at both those things, and his name is LeBron James.
Perhaps Pat is already looking ahead to 2023 while pulling on some of the heartstrings from those fantastic Heat championship runs. After all, Pat Riley has been part of a front office that has acquired guys like Andre Iguodala and Trevor Ariza, guys who featured heavily in championship runs with great teams such as the Steph Curry Warriors and Kobe-led Lakers. Bringing LeBron into the fold with all that experience and a considerable amount of games and highlights in him could mean wonders for a franchise like the Heat.
While it is nice to think that in 2023 LeBron James will be the same super athlete that we just saw the past few years, Father Time is undefeated. It is likely that Riley would not like to bring LeBron back as the franchise cornerstone he once was but rather as a means of showing the league what Miami Heat culture is all about. Miami will always be gearing up for a run at marquee free agents in the years to come, and a return of the king to his second home would be just the stamp of approval that Riley and the Heat need to begin building a dynastic-level roster once again.
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