With the NBA season a few weeks away comes yesterday’s news that Randy Pfund has resigned his position as general manager of the Miami Heat. All the right things were said via statements from both parties. Pfund thanked owner Mickey Arison and team president Pat Riley for “the opportunity.” Riley, in turn, thanked Pfund and called his work ethic “invaluable.” But all the public sucking-off aside, this could prove to be a serious blow (pun!) to the Heat in the coming years.
Pfund is not only regarded in NBA circles as a great basketball mind, but it seems he constantly helped Riley not lose his during crucial moments in team-building history. When Riley wanted to draft the large albino known as Chris Kaman in the 2003 NBA draft, Pfund talked him into taking a certain future NBA Finals MVP named Dwyane Wade instead. Again this year, when Riley was obsessed with drafting a point guard -- any point guard -- with the Heat’s number-two overall selection, it was Pfund that supposedly smacked some sense into Riley to choose the dynamic Michael Beasely. But since Riley quit his job as head coach to take over as team president last season, it seems as if Pfund had been squeezed out of the decision-making mix. This was no mere coincidence. This means Riley -- and Riley alone -- will be calling the shots when it comes to building the Miami Heat from now on, no matter who they supposedly call up to fill Pfund’s vacancy. Who needs a pesky great-eye-for-talent like Pfund when you’ve got lackeys and yes men anyway, right? Pat Riley is Gordon Gecko, dammit! And greed is good.
So while Randy Pfund is off somewhere scouting college players and building a juggernaut for some other NBA team, Riley will be sitting at his throne, ignoring stats and scouting reports and looking to draft the next tall slow white dude who really knows how to give a foul. Because nothing says 21st-century dynasty like a 1990’s blueprint. Riley finally has the Heat all to himself. What could possibly go wrong?
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-- Chris Joseph