Miami Heat president Pat Riley finally discussed Dwyane Wade's departure Saturday in a nearly one-hour-long press conference at the AmericanAirlines Arena as well as free agency and the status of Chris Bosh.
"Obviously from my standpoint and from the team's standpoint, we've had a tough summer. Period," he said. "In this league you don't have an opportunities at times for do-overs and when you get a chance to win -- as we have had in the past in 2006, '11 and '12 -- when you get a chance to win, you got to win. When you get an opportunity this summer to do something that you could have done and you didn't do it, you didn't do it.
"So in 1995 or '96, I was put in charge of basketball operations and I have always taken the approach that there were about five things that I really valued, and they're not my words they're somebody else's words, Is to be impeccable with your word, to never take anything personal, don't make any assumptions, always do your best, be skeptical but learn to listen. And this summer at least three of those things didn't come to fruition.
"So what happened with Dwyane floored me and I'm going to miss the fact of what I might have had planned for him and his future and how I saw the end and my thought process in how I could see his end here with the Heat. You are what you think and you are your thoughts. And it's my responsibility to sort of make that happen. I didn't make it happen. Dwyane left and so the buck really stops here. I'm not trying to fall on the sword for anybody. I have great regret that I didn't put myself in the middle of it and immerse myself totally in the middle of it, get in a canoe and paddle to the Mediterranean if I had to, be in New York when he arrived on the 6th and greet him at the airport. I didn't do that. I wasn't there in the middle of that negotiation and that's my job. So it's not going to be the same without him. But we will forge ahead.
"I have been here when Zo left, been here when Shaq left, when LJ (LeBron James) left, Brian Grant, Eddie Jones. But Dwyane is unique.
"There will always be a key under the mat. I just hope it doesn't get too rusty. That's all and I'm going to miss him."
When pressed for more details, Riley was pretty forthcoming on the free agency process.
"We've always operated on the premise of a single voice. Not mine, but (team owner) Micky (Arison), myself, Nick (Arison, CEO), Andy (Ellisburg, Senior Vice President, Basketball Operations/General Manager), Eric Woolworth (President of Business Operation), one single voice. There's two entities here, when it comes to basketball operations we've always talked about the one voice which is a philosophy and a plan moving on down the line. That's what we are and that's what we believe in.
"There was one voice in this negotiation, sometimes Andy handles an agent and a player and Andy completes the deal. There are times that I've done most of them to complete the deal. There are times you have a long standing relationship with a player like Dwyane or Udonis or even at the time with Alonzo that sometimes the owner gets involved in it but we all speak with one voice. We all know what to do and what we want to accomplish.
"The thing that happens during the course of negotiations over seven or eight days has to do a lot with your thought process as to what the conditions were prior to that. The conditions prior to that over the last year or two have always sort of pointed in the direction that we, as an organization, didn't do enough for Dwyane. I've always been one who was reaching to get him another guy --especially after LJ left -- trying to find a way to get him another guy to help him not only win but to help him win in a way he would be very proud when he moved on out and retired. So it wasn't just getting another guy for him it was to maximize our ability to win. The only way we can do that is to have cooperation, the same kind of collaborative cooperation he had in 2010.
"What my thoughts were to always make the team better and make sure that Dwyane over the course of the three, four, five years that he had left in his career that he was going to get his money. But not at the expense of paralyzing our ability to win, which I think would have hurt him. So if there is anything I could have done better, I could have done it. But right now there's no do-overs.
"It's a sad week for [wife] Chris and I. We love him dearly and Gabby and his family. The only thing I can count on in life that's permanent is change. When change raises its beautiful and ugly face, you've got to deal with it and adapt and move on. We've been here before. So I wish him nothing but the best and great health."
Ultimately, Riley blames himself for some of the things that might have led to Wade's departure.
"I haven't spoken to Dwyane yet," he said. "I crafted a very long email him and I'm going to send it to him when it's finished. As far I'm concerned, if I saw him right now I really believe it would be a warm embrace. I don't have any negative feelings for him at all. I know he was caught in a quandary with his thinking and his thought processes at the time. And I was locked into mine. I was so impressed when he talked to you guys they day after and I believe he was sincere in the things that he said. At that particular time, it was raw and I feel the same way about him. I'm sure everybody in the organization will feel that way about him forever."
Riley was also asked about whether he knew what the deciding factor for Wade was in leaving to join the Chicago Bulls.
"This was not about money [with Wade]. This was about something else. He is the asset, he's the star, he's the face of the franchise. I should have tried to do everything I could have verbally in trying to change his mindset to mine or big picture or better picture and one that I thought would help him end his career and also get him financially the money he needed and wanted."
More on Riley's presser, including a podcast with reaction to what he said, coming soon.