Miami Heat president Pat Riley put to rest any speculation about LeBron James allegedly asking for head coach Erik Spoelstra to be canned.

Riley, speaking during an event Thursday honoring him as an American Icon, said that LB’s name is being unjustly dragged through the mud.

Riles talked about championship expectations prior to the season, but now admits that Miami is in the “middle of the pack.”

Per the Miami Herald:

On a report, originating from a translation of minority Heat owner Ranaan Katz, that LeBron James asked Riley to fire Erik Spoelstra: “Not from him to me, ever. I’ve been in that situation twice. I left Los Angeles and a lot of stuff followed me out the door to New York. And obviously when I left New York, a lot of stuff followed me down here to Miami. It took about 10 years to sort of get out of that storyline. So a lot of stuff is following him out the door. Whether it’s right or wrong, it’s just the nature of it. But as far as that goes, no, he never, ever walked in and said anything.”

 

On Dwyane Wade: “I’m so proud of him. Every now and then I’ll send him a text. And the subject line, we keep texting back, it’s ‘I’m so proud.’ I’m so proud of Dwyane, and the way he has led, and the fact that he is playing every night. And getting himself ready to play every night. He knows as well as I do that nobody ever is 100 percent. And his leadership, along with Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem, has kept us afloat right now during a very trying time. […] But I’m so proud of Dwyane and how he has come back and changed the narrative about himself and worked on his body. And I pray every night that he’s ready to go, and he’s going and he’s playing. Some nights he might not play well, but other nights he plays like he did in 2006.”

 

On state of the team: “I think we’re right in the middle of the pack. It seems as though there’s one team in the East that might be, not head and shoulders, but better than everybody, that being Cleveland. But I think two to 12 (seeds), it’s going to be a fight. Unless we do something very well here in the next four or five games on the road to be able to get more of a cushion, that it’s just going to be a fight from two to 12. […] We have a very good team. A very good team. And you can see some nights, the team plays at a very, very high level, from an effort standpoint, from an efficiency standpoint, an energy standpoint. And most importantly, the players that got to play, and the players you pay to play, are having great nights. Then every now and then, you get one or two other guys that are stepping up to the plate and having very good nights. We’re going to need more than Chris (Bosh) and Dwyane, there’s no doubt. We’re going to need contributions from other guys. But I think we’re going to be right in the thick of things. I think our team is who they are right now, and they’re a contender in the East. And I think from there, we just let it go from there.”