Since the Miami Heat and Sioux Falls Skyforce formed their alliance last June, there has been a steady presence of team officials from the parent club to see their affiliate play first hand.  

During Saturday night’s game against the Idaho Stampede, Heat President Pat Riley enjoyed his first close encounter.  The man who won NBA titles as a player, coach and executive was willing to have a chat during halftime.

Riley explained that his trip was a scouting expedition to check on potential college prospects that included a stop in Los Angeles to scout the NCAA tournament, then St. Louis on Sunday for the Kentucky vs. Wichita State game.  Fortunately, Riley’s communication skills came in handy as the pilot initially said to land in Sioux City.  The flight schedule was then changed to the correct location.

To the core, Riley loves to compete and he realized the delicate transition to the front office.  “I’m not down there on the floor and one of the things that I had to realize when I left the bench after 25 years of coaching, that I no longer was the direct voice every day with the players.  The important thing for me was to be more connected with the coaching staff.  (Heat Head Coach) Erik Spoelstra has to be the one to pull them out of a slump or get them ready for the playoffs.  I don’t think you ever want to mix those voices there.”

Riley also thinks the D-League is trending upward in stature, but to really grow the NBADL players need incentive to play.  “You have to make a living.  These guys have families and children just like anybody else.  Their dream is to make it in the NBA.  I think it’s best to have minor league teams where you’re affiliated with the NBA.  If you pay them a little bit more, you’ll be able to keep a lot of the players here (instead of overseas).  They want to be home and they want to be developed (as a result) each NBA team would benefit from that.”

Justin Hamilton was on display Saturday night as a member of the Heat organization on assignment with Sioux Falls and Riley is impressed by the 7-footer’s improvement.  “He’s an excellent rebounder, he can space the floor, make the three, an 80 percent free throw shooter and he’s an efficient basketball player.  There’s another level for him to get to and we’re going to find out if he can make it to that level.”

For a complete handle on the conversation, click on the link below.

Pat Riley Interview with Dan Peters Play-By-Play voice of the Skyforce

(Brett Hansen/Sioux Falls Skyforce)