Bill Simmons on the undeniable Pat Riley, wrapping up the Game of Thrones season, and more.
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The Ringer
Bill Simmons writes for our Undeniables week with a look at Pat Riley's last stand—a bid to bring Kevin Durant to Miami. But first, we wrap up a remarkable ​Game of Thrones season with some final words from the Maester and a deeper look at "The Winds of Winter."
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Ask the Maester

Ask the Maester

By Jason Conception

Cersei rules in King’s Landing. Jon is a Targaryen. There’s a new King in the North. Dany’s fleet is heading west. There’s open warfare in the South. Sam needs someone to tell him how the Dewey decimal system works. SO MUCH HAPPENED SUNDAY NIGHT. Best episode ever? Yes.

On to the questions.

Brian asks, “Uhhh … how did Varys get from Dorne to Meereen so fast?”

Dany’s grand armada sets sail some months after Varys’s meeting in Dorne. See the above. Dornish sails on the right, the rose of Highgarden on the left. The Master of Whisperers obviously got a ride back to Sla—excuse me, the Bay of Dragons from Dany’s new allies. Not the most elegant of time jumps, but whatever.

Katie asks, “Technically speaking, what claim does Cersei have to the throne? Is she considered Tommen's heir?”

Well, she considers herself Tommen’s heir. And who will object? Certainly no one inside King’s Landing. Cersei’s claim to the throne is built on fear. She commands the City Watch, whatever Lannister troops are in the capital, a 7-foot zombie, and a spy network of stab-happy Oliver Twist poppets who can inform her of any overheard whispers of dissent. That’s it, but for now, that’s enough. We’re in a revolutionary period of Westerosi history; the traditional rules of who inherits what and who can rule where have gone out the window like King Tommen.

That said, Cersei, the first of her name, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar, the First Men, and the Rhythm Nation, is in a tenuous position. Her family’s last ally, Walder Frey, just had his throat slit as he sat in front of a pie made of two of his sons. Walder was infamous for his prolific production of offspring. Now, that panoply of Frey kin will be at each other’s throats trying to succeed him.

To the south of King’s Landing, the Reach has joined forces with Dorne, its ancient enemy, and their combined strength alone might be enough to smash the Lannister army and take the capital. But, of course, the Reach and Dorne are not alone—they’re part of Dany’s ginormous alliance—joining 140,000 Dothraki, as many as 8,000 Unsullied spearmen, and three fire-breathing dragons.

Cersei isn’t even safe in King’s Landing. If she leaves the Red Keep, she will need to worry about the thousands of people in the city who lost family and friends when the Sept of Baelor went up in a bloom of green fire. And, lest she think she’s safe within the castle walls, Arya Stark is back in Westeros, with a pocket full of faces borrowed from the House of Black and White and a fully leveled-up murder rating. There is no end game for Cersei. She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s finished, and House Lannister, in its current form, is finished too.

Chappell asks, “What will happen to Ser Pounce? Will he be forced to fend for himself in Flea Bottom like Arya in Season 1?”

Sad day for Ser Pounce, who will mourn by clawing a tapestry and urinating on a pair of silk slippers before eating a mouse and falling asleep in a sunbeam...

Read the rest of this week's "Ask the Maester," and see all of The Ringer's Game of Thrones content right here.

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Superfans Jason Concepcion and Mallory Rubin go deep on the Season 6 finale’s hugely emotional reveals.
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Alison Herman recaps the Season 6 Thrones finale and dubs it the best episode of the season.
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After the Thrones
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Pat Riley's last stand
Ringer illustration

Pat Riley Gets What He Wants

And now he wants Kevin Durant

By Bill Simmons

I heard a great Pat Riley story once. During the summer of 2007, Kevin Garnett was living in Malibu, California, and agonizing about his unappealing future in Minnesota. His wife wanted to take a stroll along the water, so they borrowed a friend’s access code and snuck onto one of the more exclusive beaches. As they passed in front of one beachfront house, they heard an older man hollering loudly from his deck.

Kevin! Kevin!!!

Turned out, they had walked right by Pat Riley’s house. A gleeful Riley scurried down, welcomed his guests and immediately launched into a story, almost like a preacher welcoming his congregation with a colorful anecdote. Riley claimed that he had been standing on his deck and staring at the Pacific Ocean, watching blue waves crash against the white sand, wondering how to overhaul the suddenly struggling Miami Heat. He kept gazing into the water. And right at that moment, almost as if on cue, the Garnetts magically appeared on his beach.

Riley believed it was a sign from above, that it had to mean something. Eventually, Riley invited Garnett and his wife up to his home, where they chatted for a while, maybe an hour. Garnett found himself slowly opening up. He had spent 12 years killing himself for a poorly run Minnesota franchise, never making a Finals and wasting much of his prime. Now the Timberwolves needed to rebuild — again — something that could happen only if they cashed in their lucrative KG trade chip. Even Timberwolves fans wouldn’t have blamed Garnett for jumping to a contender, but Garnett wasn’t wired that way. His connection to ’Sota meant something to him. He wasn’t ready to leave.

Any local ambling along the beach would have done a triple-take at the sight of Riley, tan and perfectly coiffed, listening intently as a 7-foot-1 black man spilled his feelings. If they knew anything about the NBA, they’d wonder about tampering, too. But an aging Miami roster lacked the requisite assets to acquire any All-Star, much less a future Hall of Famer like Garnett. This was a two-horse race: Boston and Los Angeles. Riley’s affection for Garnett as a player — and admiration for how he conducted himself as a teammate — trumped any competitive concerns. He adored Garnett’s passion for basketball, game after game, year after year, which never wavered no matter how bleak his situation might be. He thought Garnett deserved a franchise, and a city, worthy of his prodigious talents.

And actually, it went deeper than that...

Read the rest of "Pat Riley Gets What He Wants" on The Ringer, and find the rest of our Undeniables content right here.

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