How much of a badass is Pat Riley? Enough of a badass to go toe-to-toe and face-to-face with Shaq. Sure, Riley's not exactly diminutive at 6'4", but Shaq is nine inches taller and 27 years younger than him.
Shaq recounts the near-fight that he had with Riley one day that pretty much ended his career with the Miami Heat in his new memoir, Shaq, Uncut: My Story.
Deadspin has obtained a number of excerpts, including Shaq's remembrance of the Riley fight.
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My ticket out of Miami was punched in mid-February 2008. There was a lot of tension between Pat and the players. So we're about to start practice and Jason Williams comes in about ten seconds late. Pat being Pat, he starts swearing at him and screaming, "Get the hell out of here!"...
I tell Pat we're a team and we need to stick together, not throw guys out of the gym. Pat is screaming at me and says if I don't like it, then I should get the hell out of practice, too.
That's when I said, "Why don't you make me?"
I start taking a couple of steps towards Pat. Udonis Haslem steps in and I shove him out of the way. Then Zo tries to grab me. I threw him aside like he was a rag doll. Now it's me and Riley face-to-face, jaw to jaw. I'm poking him in the chest and he keeps slapping my finger away and it's getting nasty. Noisy, too. He's yelling "Fuck you!" and I'm yelling back, "No, fuck you!"
Zo is trying to calm us both down and he has this kind of singsong panic in his voice. He keeps saying, "Big fella, no big fella, big fella!" I finally turn around and tell him, "Don't worry, I'm not going to hit the man. Do you think I'm crazy?"
However, Shaq's memory may be a bit fuzzy. Mourning had torn a tendon in his knee in late of December 2007, so it most likely wouldn't have been during practice. According to reports at the time, the fight took place in early December, not mid-February.
Whatever the timing though, this is for sure: we would not want to get into a fight with Pat Riley. If he can take on Shaq in a stare-down we'd be scared to see what he'd do with someone who isn't 7'1".