When LeBron James called Pat Riley to inform him he was leaving the Miami Heat to rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers, Riley took it personally.
"I was silent," Riley says. "I didn't say anything. My mind began to just go. And it was over. I was very angry when LeBron left. It was personal for me. It just was. I had a very good friend who talked me off the ledge and kept me from going out there and saying something like Dan Gilbert. I'm glad I didn't do it."
When the Heat met with James that offseason, Riley felt it wasn't sincere. Maverick Carter wasn't in attendance and James kept glancing at a World Cup match during the presentation. Riley went so far as to ask them to mute the television.
Riley and Andy Elisburg also brought Miami's two championship trophies that they won with James and an easel to present free agent options. When Riley read the room, he instructed Elisburg to leave the trophies and easel in the hall.
Riley now understands why James had to leave.
"He went home because he had to go home," he says. "It was time. It was really time for him to go home, in his prime. If he's ever gonna do anything in Akron again, this was the time to do it. Otherwise, he'd have had a scarlet letter on his back the rest of his whole life."