No, Pat Riley didn’t mean the word “asterisk” like most people thought he did.
The Miami Heat president – just days after saying that there will always be that asterisk associated with their NBA Finals streak against the Los Angeles Lakers this season in the Walt Disney World bubble – backtracked Sunday.
“ The Lakers were the best team ”
The asterisk, Riley says, belongs to them.
“The asterisk is next to the name of the Heat, not the Lakers,” Riley said, via The Associated Press’ Tim Reynolds. “Their title is legitimate. Our loss has the asterisk [next] to him.
“The Lakers were the better team. Period.”
The Lakers beat the Heat in the final 4-2 – behind a resounding victory in Game 6 – to secure their 17th championship earlier this month. LeBron James and the Lakers, who dominated the entire season before and after the COVID-19 hiatus, undoubtedly won their title.
Yet with the coronavirus pandemic changing the season and forcing teams into a bubble in Florida, many automatically stuck an “asterisk” on the season simply because it looked different.
That’s not what Riley was talking about, though.
The Heat lost stars Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic to injury in the series opener. Although Adebayo returned in Game 4 and Dragic in Game 6, the team has never been the same without them.
If his team had been at full power, Riley said, things might have been different.
“They beat us fair and blunt,” Riley said on Friday. “But there will always be that asterisk. If we had Bam and Goran 100% – Goran was our top scorer [entering the Finals] – he could have gone to a seventh game.
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