Wade-Riley Divorce Shows Loyalty Isn’t Easy to Define in the NBA

July 7th, 2016 by Kevin Ding Leave a reply »

It was Christmas 2006 in what Dwyane Wade would increasingly often refer to as "my house," AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.

The Heat had won their first NBA title the previous June, and still basking in the afterglow was the leadership council of young Wade, veteran Shaquille O'Neal and commander Pat Riley.

O'Neal had declared that Riley was a better coach than Phil Jackson, who helped O'Neal to his first three championships and who O'Neal used to call "a white version of my father."

Jackson was in town that Christmas Day as the Los Angeles Lakers coach, and before the Heat beat the Lakers behind Wade's 40 points and 11 assists, I asked Jackson about O'Neal's proclamation of affection for Riley.

Jackson paused a beat and then said with a smirk:

"Love the one you're with."

It was a poke at the moody O'Neal, uncommitted in his ways and temporary on his teams.

But it is Riley—always a Jackson rival, too—who built a legend on being slick.

So it was inevitable that Riley and O'Neal would grow apart. It came early and ugly. O'Neal was traded to Phoenix barel ...

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