I don’t mean envisioned in the general sense.
I mean envisioned literally.
The date was Sept. 2, 1995, at Riley’s introductory news conference. He was 50 years old then, a superstar coach, and signing him was the biggest thing that had ever happened to the Heat.
“I imagine in my mind the symbolic championship parade,” Riley said that day. “Maybe right down Biscayne Boulevard.”
The event was held on a cruise ship called Imagination, as if that weren’t too good to be true.
Riley was introduced onboard that ocean liner in a large room called the Dynasty Lounge, as if THAT weren’t too good to be true, too.
Lobster, shrimp and caviar were served. Riley was a rock star, signed to a $3 million a year deal.
“I’m going to earn it. Believe me,” he said that day.
He earned it. His vision of that championship parade along Biscayne Boulevard has now been realized three times, first as head coach with the maiden championship in 2006, and the past two seasons as club president and chief architect.
Riley is 68 now, and the man whose audacious vision aligned LeBron and Bosh with Wade isn’t finished yet.
Coach Erik Spoelstra told a Riley story on Monday. This happened during the recent NBA Finals, after Miami had played terribly and lost Game 3 in San Antonio to fall behind 2 games to 1.
“I was despondent,” said Spoelstra. “Beside myself.”
There came a knock on the door of Spoelstra’s hotel suite.
His mentor and boss was standing there holding three bottles of wine.
“Coach, what do you need me to do?” said Riley.
Mentor and protégé broke down game-film together most of that night, Riley explaining later, “I knew exactly what he was going through, what he was feeling. I’d been there.”
The two men embraced on Monday, after the parade and before the arena celebration. Warm smiles were exchanged. No words were necessary.
Sometimes in life, everything works out just as you’d hoped.
Maybe even a little better.