Thursday, December 29, 2005

Behind The Scoreboard
By Claude Vinson

Riley back in coaching

Since the beginning of the current season, there were rumblings around the Miami Heat playground that the head shed was not all that thrilled with their head coach.

There were no specifics which were made public, but the rumor is that the man calling the shots from the front office was getting palace callouses. Pat Riley, of the impeccable pomade, was just chomping at the bit to get back into the coaching foray.

So when all the clouds settled last week, Riley was at the reins and Stan Van Gundy, of the NBA coaching Van Gundys, was retired to the farm.

Naturally, speculations ran high that the Heat’s big man, Shaquille O’Neal, had perhaps mentioned that there was time for a change in leadership. Of course, Shaq staunchly denied any complicity, saying that he wouldn’t dare tell Riley how to run the Heat.

The statement has its disbelievers. After all, just a few years back, the big man and a certain other cohort split the Los Angeles Lakers.

This is not really a change of steeds in midstream since the season is not that old, but whether this new direction is going to take the Heat to the big game will have to be played out.

Miami is not hurting. The Heat is leading its division and has a record that is currently the fourth best in the NBA.

And speaking of that other cohort who is finding that it is indeed lonely at the top, or more correctly, near the bottom, Kobe is finding it tough to lead a pack of newbies to the Lakers former glory.

To really rub it in, it probably isn’t all that easy to realize that the Lakers are fourth behind the Clippers.

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