Riley gets nasty to support his star
Here’s a quick rundown of the reaction to LeBron James’ post-game complaints in Chicago on Wednesday:
Boston GM Danny Ainge commented the next day during a radio appearance.
“I think the referees got the calls right. I don't think it was a hard foul,” Ainge said. “I think the one involving LeBron against (Carlos) Boozer, that was flagrant. I think the officials got it right.
“I think that it's almost embarrassing that LeBron would complain about officiating.”
Bulls fans can probably relate to that sentiment. James shoots hundreds of free throws after minimal contact. The 2011 Eastern Conference finals provided plenty of examples. So Ainge believes James should be complaining when he’s been the beneficiary of so many favorable calls.
Miami Heat president Pat Riley chimed in with a hostile response to Ainge’s comments.
“Danny Ainge needs to shut the (blank) up and manage his own team,” Riley said in a statement released through a Heat spokesman. “He was the biggest whiner going when he was playing and I know that because I coached against him.”
The second part of that statement is true, as anyone who remembers Ainge as a player can attest. But it is funny to hear Riley – in an indirect way – complain about the Bulls’ hard fouls against James.
The “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons are often credited with ushering in the NBA’s physical defense era, but Riley’s New York Knicks of the early 90’s were a bigger culprit. The 1988-89 Pistons allowed 100.8 points per game. The ’93-94 Knicks gave up 91.5.
Of course, Riley’s primary motivation is to show James he’ll stick up for him. James can become a free agent in 2014 and he’s switched sides once before.
Ainge did have a response for Riley:
“Pat Riley's right,” Ainge said. “I should manage my own team. I complained a lot to the officials. And I'm right, LeBron should be embarrassed about how he complains about the calls he gets.”
The Bulls tried to make their fouls count against James on Wednesday and prevent 3-point plays. It worked that time.