I know it’s a little late to be talking about this, but it’s still an issue out there in the universe of fan forums. So I’m again in discussions about whether the Heat drafted Shabazz Napier because of LeBron James.
We all know LeBron was high on Napier – he praised him on Twitter during the National Championship game and he did it again on draft day, calling Napier his favorite player in the draft. Riley insisted that LeBron’s views on Napier had no influence on the Heat moving up to take him, but nobody is buying that outside of South Florida.
Obviously Heat fans don’t want to hear that their GM was groveling at the feet of King James, but I think it was possible. Here was my most recent exchange with a Heat fans about this:
I liked my response to DWadeno3 so much that I’ve decided to reproduce it for you here:
I will agree that there is a chance that Riley and LeBron were just coincidentally really high on a player that no one else was really high on – but it just seems like too much of a coincidence this year, under this specific circumstance.
And you say, “Riley isn’t a guy who does things his players like” – but he did when it came to LeBron. He allowed James to do things that he didn’t previously allow, like the headband and granting LeBron’s manager and personal trainer greater access to the team.
So the idea that he wouldn’t again go against his own preferences, and draft a player late, in an effort to retain the guy Riley dubbed, “The Best of All Time” – I don’t know, seems like that’s what he did.
If you don’t think that Riley is capable of seriously kissing a once-in-a-generation player’s ass in an unprecedented way, next time you’re in AAA take a look up at that #23 jersey.