A recent SB Nation article headlined a story about Marcus Lee by writing "John Calipari is the most insatiable recruiter alive." Miami Heat fans would counter that statement and say Pat Riley could contend for that honor as well.
Calipari uses the "Succeed and Proceed" slogan to recruit top candidates to the University of Kentucky by pointing out that success at UK often leads to a career in the NBA. John Wall, Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns are recent examples of former Kentucky stars proceeding to lucrative careers in the professional ranks.
Calipari tells prospects not to take losing minutes on the court personally, but with the perspective that business is business in the win-or-go-home world of competitive basketball, where only the fittest at the moment survive in battle. The author writes,
"Lee finally got his opportunity last year, but he didn't do enough with it to earn the promise of minutes as a senior. He can't say he was lied to. This is how the system works at Kentucky, where the best of the very best jump directly to the NBA and anyone else left behind risks being passed by the freshmen behind them."
LeBron James reaching the NBA Finals for six consecutive years highlights the fact that the Heat over the last ten seasons have only reached the Finals when James was on the team. In the other six seasons without James, the Heat were in the lottery twice, knocked out in first round three times, and eliminated in the second round last season. Blaming all six of those failures on injuries alone is too easy of an excuse for not succeeding.
As cited in HHH, the Miami Heat brand is strong. Keeping it among the top names in the NBA depends on how well Riley's recruiting efforts turn out this summer in putting together a championship contender. In Calipari's world the new talent he recruits for Kentucky will be fighting to knock off anyone on the prior year's team who cannot defend their turf. The juniors and seniors understand that and don't take it personally, but as motivation to move onto other projects, if they cannot do the job. To quote Calipari,
"This is about the kids to me. So I said, 'Why don’t we make this about succeed and proceed?' If you don't succeed, you can't proceed. If you do succeed, you can proceed. It’s just how it is."
As an insatiable recruiter himself, Riley can lure top talent to Miami with its strong brand recognition, winning history and his personal charisma. Rotation players from the 2015-16 team must earn their minutes against all contenders, whether they were on the former squad or new additions, for the 2016-17 season based on merit alone, As they say on Wall Street, past performance does not guarantee future results.
Players know Riley will be wooing talent to bring a championship parade to Miami, because that is his job. Those who do not measure up to higher standards by increasing their skill level will suffer the fate of Marcus Lee, and join other teams or explore the world outside of basketball, knowing they have achieved glory with the Heat that few can boast of in their lifetime.
How Riley succeeds this summer in signing players, who possess superior skills, coupled with the burning desire to win at all costs, will determine how far the Heat will proceed into the postseason, if at all.