Ian Thomsen's new book, "The Soul of Basketball: The Epic Showdown between LeBron, Kobe, Doc and Dirk that Saved the NBA", outlines a situation in 2010 when LeBron James asked Pat Riley if he had interest in coaching again.
During an early season loss, James bumped Erik Spoelstra as he walked toward the bench during a timeout. The Heat had lost four out of five games and Riley called James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade into his office for a meeting.
“They just said, ‘We’re not feeling it,’ or something like that,” Riley said. “We talked about the typical things that we have to do, have patience and all of that stuff.
“And I remember LeBron looking at me, and he said, ‘Don’t you ever get the itch?’ I said, ‘The itch for what?’ He said, ‘The itch to coach again?’ I said, ‘No, I don’t have the itch.’ He didn’t ask any more questions, and I didn’t offer any more answers. But I know what it meant, and I always go back and wonder about what he was thinking at that time. He walked out scratching his leg like it was itching.”
Riley revealed that similar questions were also raised during Miami's 2010 recruiting pitch to James.
"They wanted to know what was going to happen with Erik," Riley said. "They wondered if I was going to be coaching. I said, 'Look, Erik is the head coach, that's it. I support him. I'm not interested in coaching.'
"The thought was in their mind at times that maybe I would come back and coach, I think. But I was truly done, I didn't want to get back into it, and Erik is a hell of a coach. He was coming off two good playoff years, but he had not been coaching three superstars. And then with the whole LeBron effect, it would have been a tough transition for any head coach with two years of experience."