Miami Heat President Pat Riley was slapped with a fine following his comments concerning Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James. On June 9, 2021, the NBA announced Riley would have to pay $25,000 for violating the league’s anti-tampering rule.
Riley made the comments during his appearance on “Le Batard and Friends” show on June 4, one day after the Lakers were eliminated from the playoffs in Game 6 against the Phoenix Suns.
Riley said that if LeBron ever wanted to return to South Beach, the door is open. “I would leave the key under the doormat if he would call and let me know he’s coming,” he said. “I would do that, but I doubt very much if that key … that key’s rusted now.”
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“LeBron is, look he’s one of the greatest of all time,” Riley continued. “And for four years down here, if we want to go back and just remember what those four years were like — four years in the Finals, four years of excitement, two world championships — with LeBron, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Udonis [Haslem], all of them. It was the best time for the Heat.
“So I wish him nothing but the best, and if he ever wanted to come back, then I’ll put a new shiny key under the mat.”
Getting fined by the NBA will not be a surprise for Riley — he actually mentioned during the interview that he might get fined by the league for tampering, as the 36-year-old former MVP is under contract in Los Angeles through the 2022-23 season.
After LeBron joined the Heat in 2010, Miami made four straight appearances in the NBA Finals, winning the title in both 2012 and 2013. In July 2014, LeBron announced he would return to play with the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 2018, King James joined the Lakers.
Riley Spoke About Adding a Third Big Name for Next Season
While LeBron isn’t a possibility, the Heat need another All-Star to complement the team’s core that is Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. With Victor Oladipo’s future still up in the air, and possibly up to $34 million in additional cap space if they release both Goran Dragic and Andre Iguodala, Riley could make a blockbuster move to sign a top-tier free agent this summer.
“We’ll see,” Riley said during his annual postseason media conference on June 3, as reported by Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson. “The market will determine a lot of that as we move forward. I like the nucleus of our team. We have a great core with Jimmy [Butler] and Bam [Adebayo]; regardless of how they performed in the playoffs, we didn’t make a mistake on those guys.”
“I have a pretty good idea of what we have and where we are headed,” Riley said, “Despite the result of the Milwaukee series, which was bad … We are ready to move forward.”
The NBA Can Levy Fines up to $10 Million for Tampering
According to Article 35A of the league’s constitution, “No person may, directly or indirectly … entice, induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by any other Member of the Association. “Penalties for violating this anti-tampering rule could include suspension, forfeiture or transfer of draft picks and fines up to $10 million, the document says.
As Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann explained, “These are hardly light sanctions—if only they were imposed. … Therein lies the problem. Actual punishments for tampering have been decidedly modest.”
That’s why, in 2019, the NBA’s Board of Governors voted unanimously to double the potential fine for tampering, bumping it up to its present-day eight figures, McCann said.
“There was a strong view, I think, of every single person in the room that we need to ensure that we’re creating a culture of compliance in this league and that our teams want to know that they’re competing on a level playing field,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said after the board’s decision, according to the Los Angeles Times, “and frankly, [teams] don’t want to feel disadvantaged if they are adhering to our existing rules.”