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Pat Riley admits he thought of returning, but was never pursued by Lakers

Magic Johnson, Pat Riley

Before the Los Angeles Lakers’ season ended, they were stunned by Magic Johnson’s resignation as the team’s president of basketball operations. No one from the team knew that he had planned on doing that until he said it himself in an impromptu press conference before the team’s final game back in April.

For a brief period of time, the Lakers tried to look for a replacement to Magic. They considered multiple options, including former Cleveland Cavaliers GM David Griffin, who is now with the New Orleans Pelicans. However, one name who has been rumored to be interested in returning to Los Angeles but was never contacted by the team is Miami Heat president Pat Riley.

Riley coached the Lakers during the 1980s, leading them to multiple NBA championships, and in an interview with ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk and Dave McMenamin he admitted that he wanted to help them become contenders once again, but the team never reached out to him.

“I have thought [about returning to the Lakers] only from a sentimental standpoint. But I was never pursued by them. Nobody officially contacted me. I have about 20 friends wishing I would come back, but nobody asked.

Riley would’ve been a perfect replacement for Magic, as his credentials speak loudly about what he can do to turn a franchise around. He added that though his loyalty remains with the Heat, he would’ve seriously thought about returning to the Lakers’ front office if they wanted him to.

“They had Magic. When you are in the position that Earvin was in, when you turn over the organization to somebody like him, there’s only one person who can say no to you. That’s your owner. It’s the same for me here in Miami. If [Heat owner] Micky Arison says no, that’s it. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t have power.”

The team also had an opportunity to bring back franchise legend Jerry West as part of the team’s front office, but they never called him, either. Now, “The Logo”is a special adviser to their Staples Center co-tenants, the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Lakers have made it clear that they will not be finding another team president, and general manager Rob Pelinka will be the one taking over whatever duties Johnson had during his tenure as the team’s top executive.