Riley absence leaves doubts, hope 

January, 3, 2007
01/03/07
2:59
PM ET
This is the Heat's only hope.

Assuming Shaquille O'Neal doesn't turn back the clock four years and become The Diesel we all know and love when he returns from knee surgery, Miami's only chance at repeating as NBA Champions (probably even as Eastern Conference champions) is for Pat Riley's eventual return from this leave of absence to register "15 Strong" on the inspirational scale of 1-10.

I'm not suggesting Riley is leaving the team as some kind of motivational ploy. Apparently, his knee and hip are bad enough to need surgery.

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