Is Pat Riley The NBA’s Tywin Lannister?…Yes…

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    Updated: April 6, 2014
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    It’s that time of the year again. It’s that time when nerds and normal unite to indulge in the madness that is Game of Thrones.

    It’s that time of year when NBA fans get ready for the NBA playoffs. As a fan of both the NBA and GOT, I’ve noticed an interesting similarity between both worlds.

    Every time I watch the Miami Heat play, the camera is panned to the crowd and team President and legend Pat Riley is sitting there with his slicked back hair, overseeing his Miami empire.

    I can’t help but think how similar Riley is to Tywin Lannister.

    Even though one is fictional, both  men are the patriarchs to an empire that is feared in their respective worlds.

    Similar to House Lannister in Westeros, everyone in the NBA either fears or hates the Miami Heat but one thing everyone can agree upon is the respect for Pat Riley, patriarch. 


    The Sons

    Let’s begin with the two sons that are the lifeblood of the fathers and required to succeed when their patriarchs tell them to get something done.

    For Tywin Lannister, his two sons are Tyrion and Jaime.

    It’s apparent Tywin does not hold his two sons in the same regards.

    Where Tyrion is the bane of his existence as a Lannister, Jaime is everything he wants in a son; Jaime is in the image of his father, he’s a leader, he’s ruthless, and he will do whatever it takes to make his House-proud. 

    Riley has his two “sons” as well, Erik Spoelstra and Stan Van Gundy. Spoelstra is the prodigal son, everything that is right with the Heat. Van Gundy on the other hand was a brilliant tactician with a slick tongue that Riley did not seem to enjoy having around because he was too smart for his own good. 

    Riley gave Van Gundy an assignment, just one simple task, win the 2005 NBA Championship.

    That is all he had to do. For Pat Riley that was as simple as it is your duty Van Gundy, accomplish it.

    In 2005, Van Gundy’s Heat team lost in the Eastern Conference finals to the Detroit Pistons in 7 games. Van Gundy’s star player, Dwyane Wade, was hurt with a rib injury but that was no excuse, there are no excuses for failure. 

    Van Gundy did not accomplish his task and rumor had that Pat Riley was behind the scenes letting him know about it.

    In December 2005, Stan Van Gundy resigned from his post as Miami Heat head coach.

    In comes the Patriarch himself, Pat Riley, to save the day.

    Riley took over as coach and lo and behold, in 2006 the Miami Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks 4-2 to win their first ever NBA championship.

    This remind you of anything from Game of Thrones? Cause it does me. The Battle of Blackwater, when Tyrion did his best against Stannis Baratheon and his navy.

    Unfortunately, Tyrion’s best wasn’t good enough and even his brilliant idea to use wildfire did nothing to stop Stannis’ invading forces. All was lost for Tyrion at Kings Landing, that is until Tywin and his forces appeared and saved the day.

    After that Tyrion was a scar faced 3rd rate son, and the Patriarch proved once again why he was the all-conquering leader.


    Once time came, Riley gave power to his young protégé and successor, Erik Spoelstra.

    Riley saw in Spoelstra everything necessary to become a successful coach. And in 2010, Riley spent lavishly to get Spoelstra the pieces he needed to make a sustainable assault on the NBA title.


    Amassing The Right Soldiers

    First, Riley went out and got the NBA version of Gregor Clegan, AKA The Mountain That Rides, AKA LeBron James. 

    Courtesy of

    No one is Westeros is feared more than The Mountain because he is simply so much bigger and stronger than everyone else and can overpower any opponent, period. Same thing with James, he was the best the NBA had to offer and his skills were unmatched, that was step one.

    Step two, Riley needed another player to add the potential super team, so he went out and got the NBA’s version of Sandor Clegane, Chris Bosh.

    Bosh and The Hound are the same person…sort of.

    They can both do a great job on their own when it comes to things that aren’t vital to the master plan, but you don’t expect them, nor ask them, to lead their army, their team, to success.

    Bosh is a great third option and he’s an amazing basketball player, as his time in Toronto with the raptors proved. That was step two.

    Step three wasn’t the need to acquire another player but to keep one of his main disciples happy.

    In his Miami Heat ranks Riley has his deadliest disciple, Dwyane Wade, who is the NBA version of Roose Bolton.

    This is how the “Song of Fire and Ice” Wikipedia page describes Bolton: “Though mild-mannered, Roose is cold, patient, calculating, and capable of great cruelty. He possesses a cold cunning, a skill for strategy, and a calculating nature.”

    Yeah, that’s Dwyane Wade in my opinion, verbatim. In his prime Wade was an amazing basketball player and his NBA Finals performance in 2006, when he went absolutely nuclear against the Mavericks, says it all.

    He’s not the same player he was during that time because of knee and back issues, but on his day he is still a top 10 NBA player. Now that Riley had his team, he was ready to take over. 


    Staking A Claim For the Kingdom

    In 2011, the Heat made it to the first NBA Finals in the era of the Big 3 and faced off against their 2006 competitor the Dallas Mavericks. The Heat took a commanding 2-0 lead in the series and Riley’s takeover plan looked nearly complete. Except the unthinkable happened. The Heat collapsed and ended up losing that series.

    What would Riley do now? Fire the prodigal son?? Get rid of his Jaime Lannister?? Absolutely not. He stuck by Spoelstra just like Tywin always does Jaime, and told Spoelstra to not fail him again. The next season the Heat once again reached the NBA Finals, and this time they were meeting the young upstart Oklahoma City Thunder. 

    Kevin Durant, the young king, was making an assault on the Association with his brother, Russell Westbrook, and his brother-in-arms, James Harden.

    Think Robb Stark, Jon Snow and Theon Grey Joy, respectively, if you will. The Thunder won the first game and everyone thought it would be a repeat of the previous Finals and the Heat would lose. That wasn’t the case.

     The next 4 games turned into a Red Wedding Massacre as the Heat dismantled the young and inexperienced Thunder team.

    The Heat had sent a message to the League, they were Kings, and they were going to reign supreme for a long time. Harden, aka Theon, is no longer part of the Thunder, and there is no guarantee Durant and Westbrook will be back to the Finals. Riley did his job. 

    The following season, Riley’s team reached the NBA Finals again, as was expected.

    That NBA Final was a match-up between the Heat and the great San Antonio Spurs.

    The Spurs had the Heat beat, it seemed, and with only seconds left in Game 6, all looked lost . . . all the Spurs needed to do was close out Game 6 and the Heat’s short reign would come to an abrupt end.

    They almost had it until the wiley old man, Ray Allen, AKA Walder Frey, hit the Spurs with a “Reigns Of Castamere” shot that sent the game into overtime.

    Once that shot went in, the world knew what would happen; Riley’s men would now step on the Spurs’ necks and close this series out, which they did, winning their first title in the process.

    And now, here we are, another season with the Heat ready to defend their crown.

    This will be the Heat’s toughest task trying to make 4 finals in a row and winning three straight.

    If the Heat do make it back to the finals, then they have numerous contenders they can potentially meet.

    The same Thunder team from two seasons ago has grown up and wants their revenge. Same goes with last year’s loser, the San Antonio Spurs; they want another shot at the reigning champs.

    The Heat also have a contender from Wine and Sand country California, AKA Dorne, trying to take the crown also.

    The Clippers may end up playing a role in the title this season and Blake Griffin/Chris Paul, AKA Oberyn Martel, will be a force to be reckoned with. If you haven’t read the books, then you won’t know who Oberyn Martell is, but believe me, he’s going to be a fan favorite in Season 4 of the Game of Thrones. 

    Courtesy of

    Pat Riley does what is necessary for his team to succeed, and Tywin Lannister does everything necessary for House Lannister to always be on top.

    They are the same person, just in different arenas. The NBA Playoffs and Game of Thrones are here. It’s going to be a very entertaining three months in the world of both, and I can’t wait.

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    1. Truitt

      April 6, 2014 at 3:12 PM


      • Frantz Paul

        Frantz Paul

        May 7, 2014 at 3:47 PM

        Thanks for the read, Truitt.

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