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Pat Riley releases statement on LeBron’s exit

Heat president Riley sits in the stands before the Heat meets the Celtics in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Finals NBA playoffs in Miami

Miami Heat president Pat Riley sits in the stands before the Heat meets the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Finals NBA basketball playoffs in Miami, Florida May 30, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Innerarity (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL HEADSHOT)

REUTERS

Miami Heat president Pat Riley released a statement on LeBron James leaving to return home to Cleveland:

While I am disappointed by LeBron’s decision to leave Miami, no one can fault another person for wanting to return home. The last four years have been an incredible run for South Florida, HEAT fans, our organization and for all of the players who were a part of it. LeBron is a fantastic leader, athlete, teammate and person, and we are all sorry to see him go.

Over the last 19yrs, since Micky and I teamed together, The Miami HEAT has always been a championship organization; we’ve won multiple championships and competed for many others. Micky, Erik and I remain committed to doing whatever it takes to win and compete for championships for many years to come. We’ve proven that we can do it and we’ll do it again.

There have been reports all day that the Heat were largely blindsided by this decision (LeBron did call Riley and Arison before the story went public, he learned that lesson the hard way). The Heat have handled this about as well as can be expected, at least publicly. Better than some Heat fans.

The Heat on the court are going to be a version of what they were — small ball. They are bringing back Chris Bosh on a max deal and will play Josh McRoberts at the four. They are working on a deal to bring Dwyane Wade back and while Chicago has reached out it’s hard to imagine Wade bolting Miami, too. With that the Heat should make the playoffs in the East (plus they are going hard at Luol Deng, which makes them very interesting).

But it’s not near the same without LeBron. Riley understands that.