The NBA fined Miami Heat president Pat Riley $25,000 for tampering comments he made last week regarding Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, the league announced on Wednesday. His remarks came during an appearance on Dan Le Batard's 24-hour podcast marathon, where he said that he would be open to the possibility of a reunion with James if it was mutual.
"I would leave the key under the doormat if he would call me and let me know that he's coming," Riley said. "I would do that, but I doubt very much that key ... that key is rusted now.
"LeBron, look, he's one of the greatest of all time, and for four years down here, if we want to go back and remember what those four years were like, it was four years in the Finals, four years of excitement, two world championships ... It was the best time for the Heat. So I wish him nothing but the best, and if he ever wanted to come back, I'll put a new shiny key under the mat."
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Given how strict the league is about its tampering rules, it isn't surprising that Riley got a fine. Earlier this week, Philadelphia 76ers president Daryl Morey was slapped with a whopping $75,000 fine for tampering comments he made on social media regarding Stephen Curry. But while Morey's comments were more blatant, Riley's comments may have been misconstrued.
On the show, after Riley said he would leave a "new shiny key under the mat" for James, Le Batard corrects him and says that the "key under the mat" was in reference to Dwyane Wade, which was on a full page ad the Heat took out after Wade left Miami in 2016. After Le Batard clarified that, Riley said he didn't hear that part of the question and then said, "Dwyane will always have a key under the mat, it's there ... I thought he was talking about LeBron."
Unfortunately, that moment of confusion cost Riley $25,000, something he said he knew would happen right after he made the comment. Although Riley was confused about the question, he still made the comment, leaving the door open for a possible reunion if James ever wanted to take his talents back to South Beach.