x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

NBA: Pat Riley and Danny Ainge fan the flames over the Miami Heat

LeBron James has fouled out of a game only three times in his nine-year career and none in the past five. A case can be made officials go easy on him, writes Steve Dilbeck.

Miami Heat president Pat Riley has hit back at comments made by Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge about LeBron James.
Miami Heat president Pat Riley has hit back at comments made by Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge about LeBron James.

Pat Riley has hated the Boston Celtics for the whole of his career. As a player with the Los Angeles Lakers; as a coach with the Lakers, New York Knicks and Miami Heat; and now as Heat president.

The Celtics general manager Danny Ainge last week chastised Miami's LeBron James for complaining officials were not doing enough to protect him, saying: "I think that it's almost embarrassing that LeBron James would complain about officiating."

Riley reacted harshly, suggesting Ainge needed to "shut … up and manage his own team". Riley added: "He was the biggest whiner going when he was playing and I know that because I coached against him."

As a guard for the Celtics in the 1980s, it is fair to say Ainge was known for cheap shots and for complaining to officials. He and the Celtics played the Lakers in the NBA finals three times, with the Lakers winning twice.

"Pat Riley's right, I should manage my own team. I complained a lot to the officials," Ainge said, then added: "And I'm right, LeBron should be embarrassed about how he complains about the calls he gets."

James has fouled out of a game only three times in his nine-year career and none in the past five. A case can be made officials go easy on him. But Riley has always defended his players, which is what he is doing here. That it is the Celtics makes it more interesting.

"I think it's fun," said Doc Rivers, the Celtics coach. "It's a flashback." The teams may meet in the play-offs. Tempers could flare.

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