Pat Riley is keeping a porch light on, among other “welcome back” metaphors, in case LeBron James ever wants to bring his talents back to South Beach.
Riley’s Miami Heat and LeBron’s Los Angeles Lakers both were bounced in the first round of the NBA playoffs, and the longtime team president said this week that he’d consider a reunion with James, who won two titles during his four seasons with the Heat from 2010-14.
“I would leave the key under the doormat if he would call me and let me know that he’s coming,” Riley said Friday in an interview on Dan Le Batard’s radio show. “I would do that, but I doubt very much that key…That key is rusted now.
“LeBron, look, he’s one of the greatest of all time, and for four years down here, if we want to go back and remember what those four years were like, it was four years in the Finals, four years of excitement, two world championships…It was the best time for the Heat. 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.”
The 76-year-old Riley later added that his words “will just get me fined for tampering” by NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
The 36-year-old James signed a two-year contract extension worth $85 million with the Lakers in December through the 2022-23 season. He missed several weeks this year with an ankle injury before Los Angeles was eliminated in six games in the first round by the Phoenix Suns.
After losing to LeBron and the Lakers in the NBA Finals last year in the Orlando bubble, the Heat were swept in the first round this season by the Milwaukee Bucks.