Berry Tramel

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Pat Riley's 'get a grip' good advice for Thunder

by Berry Tramel Modified: June 20, 2014 at 1:25 pm •  Published: June 20, 2014

Miami Heat president Pat Riley gestures during an end of season NBA basketball news conference, Thursday, June 19, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/The Miami Herald, Al Diaz)  MAGS OUT
Miami Heat president Pat Riley gestures during an end of season NBA basketball news conference, Thursday, June 19, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/The Miami Herald, Al Diaz) MAGS OUT

Pat Riley spoke to the media Thursday in Miami. He doesn’t talk all that often. But when he does, it’s interesting.

The Miami Heat president addressed his unsteady roster – 14 of the Heat’s 15 players will be or could be free agents, including superstars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh – and basically told everyone to take a chill pill.

“I think everybody needs to get a grip,” Riley said. “This stuff is hard. You have to stay together and find the guts. You don’t find the door and run out of it.”

I like it. Get a grip. Riley was talking to a lot of constituents.

Fans. Media. His very own ballplayers. Other team’s fans. League-wide media. Anyone willing to listen.

Riley is right. Winning NBA titles is hard.

Miami won two in a row. Lost the NBA Finals the two years sandwiching those championships. Neither title came easy. If the Thunder hadn’t laid an egg in the first five minutes of 2012’s Game 2, who knows if Miami would have beaten OKC? If Kawhi Leonard hadn’t missed a foul shot and Gregg Popovich not had Tim Duncan on the bench for a crucial Miami possession and Ray Allen not hit the shot of his life, the Spurs would have won the 2013 title.

If a team with LeBron James and lots of talent walks a title tightrope, how about everyone else?

The Thunder has supreme talent, but that doesn’t mean OKC is guaranteed a championship.

The Spurs are the Spurs. Always have been. And they just won their first title since 2007.

The Clippers and Rockets have formed rosters with multiple superstars – and have combined for two series victories in the last three years. Both achieved (by LA) needing Game 7’s.

The Knickerbockers and Netropolitans have the highest payrolls in the game. In the last seven years, they each have won playoff series victory.

Riley is right. The NBA Playoffs are hard. There are no Cinderellas. Reach the final eight, much less the final four, and the other team is guaranteed to have a bunch of big, skilled, fast, tough, mean veteran ballplayers who are well-schooled in how to win basketball games.

That’s what Riley is saying, even to LeBron, Wade and Bosh, who can opt out of their $20-million-a-year contracts with the Heat. Get a grip. Take a step back. Nothing is guaranteed. Sometimes, you just have to tough it out.

Good advice for all people Thunder, too.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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