Pat Riley
Riley in 2010
Miami Heat
PositionPresident
LeagueNBA
Personal information
Born (1945-03-20) March 20, 1945 (age 79)
Rome, New York, U.S.
Listed height6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Listed weight205 lb (93 kg)
Career information
High schoolLinton (Schenectady, New York)
CollegeKentucky (1964–1967)
NBA draft1967: 1st round, 7th overall pick
Selected by the San Diego Rockets
Playing career1967–1976
PositionShooting guard
Number42, 12
Coaching career1979–2008
Career history
As player:
19671970San Diego Rockets
19701975Los Angeles Lakers
1975–1976Phoenix Suns
As coach:
19791981Los Angeles Lakers (assistant)
19811990Los Angeles Lakers
19911995New York Knicks
19952003,
20052008
Miami Heat
Career highlights and awards
As player:

As head coach:

As assistant coach:

As executive:

Career NBA playing statistics
Points3,906 (7.4 ppg)
Rebounds855 (1.6 rpg)
Assists913 (1.7 apg)
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at NBA.com
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com
Career coaching record
NBA1210–694 (.636)
Basketball Hall of Fame as coach

Patrick James Riley (born March 20, 1945) is an American professional basketball executive, former coach, and former player in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He has been the team president of the Miami Heat since 1995, and he also served as the team's head coach from 1995 to 2003 and again from 2005 to 2008. Often referred to as "The Godfather", Riley is regarded as one of the greatest NBA figures of all time both as a coach and executive. He has won five NBA championships as a head coach, four with the Los Angeles Lakers during their Showtime era in the 1980s and one with the Heat in 2006. Riley is a nine-time NBA champion across his tenures as a player (1972), assistant coach (1980), head coach (1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2006), and executive (2012, 2013). Since the start of his career in the NBA, Riley has appeared in 25 percent of all NBA Finals in history over his span as player, coach, and executive.[1]

Riley was named NBA Coach of the Year three times (1989–90, 1992–93 and 1996–97, as head coach of the Lakers, New York Knicks and Heat, respectively). He was head coach of an NBA All-Star Game team nine times: eight times with the Western Conference team (1982, 1983, 19851990, all as head coach of the Lakers) and once with the Eastern team (1993, as head coach of the Knicks). He is the first North American sports figure to win a championship as a player, as an assistant coach, as a head coach, and as an executive, and in various roles has reached the NBA finals in six different decades.[2] In 1996, he was named one of the 10 Greatest Coaches in NBA history. Riley most recently won the 2012 and 2013 NBA championships with the Heat as their team president. He received the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award from the NBA Coaches Association on June 20, 2012.

Early life

Riley was born in Rome, New York and raised in Schenectady. He is the son of Mary Rosalia (Balloga)[3][4] and Leon Riley, who played 22 seasons of minor league baseball as an outfielder and first baseman, and appeared in four games for the 1944 Philadelphia Phillies.[5][6]

Riley played basketball for Linton High School in Schenectady under head coach Walt Przybylo and assistants Bill Rapavy and Ed Catino.[7] Linton High School's 74–68 victory over New York City's Power Memorial on December 29, 1961, is remembered mostly for its two stars: Power Memorial's Lew Alcindor (who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Riley, who would go on to coach Abdul-Jabbar with the Los Angeles Lakers.[8] In 1991, Riley called it "one of the greatest games in the history of Schenectady basketball."

College career

Riley played college basketball for four seasons for the Kentucky Wildcats—one on the freshman team[9] and three on the varsity.[10] As a junior on the 1965–66 Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team, he was named First Team All-SEC, All-NCAA Tournament Team, NCAA Regional Player of the Year, SEC Player of the Year and AP Third Team All-American, leading the Wildcats to the 1966 NCAA title game. Coached by Adolph Rupp, UK lost to Texas Western (today's UTEP), a game that was reenacted in the movie Glory Road. In his senior year, Riley made First Team All-SEC, becoming one of the few players in storied Kentucky basketball history to be named First Team All-SEC twice.[11]

Professional career

San Diego Rockets (1967–1970)

Riley was selected by the San Diego Rockets as the seventh overall pick of the 1967 NBA draft.[12] Despite the fact that he had not played college football,[13] Riley was also drafted as a wide receiver by the Dallas Cowboys in the 11th round of the 1967 NFL Draft.[14] After playing three seasons with the Rockets,[15] he was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1970 NBA expansion draft.[16]

Los Angeles Lakers (1970–1975)

Riley as a Laker in 1974

The Blazers traded Riley to the Los Angeles Lakers,[17] where he played for five seasons.[12] Riley played a significant role as a reserve on the Lakers' 1972 NBA Championship team.[18]

Phoenix Suns (1975–1976)

During the 1975–76 NBA season, Riley was traded to the Phoenix Suns.[17] He retired in 1976,[19] having averaged 7.4 points per game over his nine seasons in the league.[17]

Coaching and executive career (1979–present)

Los Angeles Lakers (1979–1990)

Riley returned to the NBA in 1977 as a broadcaster for the Lakers. In November 1979, after the team's head coach, Jack McKinney, was injured in a near-fatal bicycle accident, assistant coach Paul Westhead took over the team's head coaching duties[20] and hired Riley as an assistant coach.[21] With rookie guard Magic Johnson and longtime star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Lakers defeated the Philadelphia 76ers in six games in the 1980 NBA Finals, giving Westhead and Riley championship rings in their first year coaching the team. However, the team lost in the playoffs the next year to the Moses Malone-led Houston Rockets.

Six games into the 1981–82 season, Magic Johnson said he wished to be traded because he was unhappy playing for Westhead. Shortly afterward, Lakers' owner Jerry Buss fired Westhead. At an ensuing press conference, with Jerry West at his side, Buss named West head coach. West, however, balked, and Buss awkwardly tried to name West as "offensive captain" and then named West and Riley as co-coaches.[22] West made it clear during the press conference that he would only assist Riley, and that Riley was the head coach.[23] Thereafter, Riley was the interim head coach, until his status became permanent.

Riley ushered in the Lakers' "Showtime" era, along with superstar players Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar with their running game. Riley became a celebrity in his own right, a fashion icon for his Armani suits and slicked-back hair which complemented the team's Hollywood image.[24]

Besides using Lakers' up-tempo style established by McKinney and Westhead, Riley was also innovative on defense; he was one of the first coaches to employ a 1-3-1 half-court trap to pick up the pace of the game.[25] Though the Showtime Lakers were known for their offense, they won championships with their defense.[26] In Michael Cooper, they had one of the top defensive guards in the game.[27] The league-wide perception was that the Lakers played with finesse and were not physical enough to win in the playoffs. Riley's mantra was "no rebounds, no rings", reinforcing the need to fight for rebounds in order to win championships.[28]

Riley led the Lakers to four consecutive NBA Finals appearances. His first title came in his first season, against the Philadelphia 76ers. Both teams returned to the Finals the next year, and this time Riley's Lakers, hobbled by injuries to Norm Nixon, Bob McAdoo and rookie James Worthy, were swept by the 76ers. The Lakers lost in the Finals again in 1984, to the Boston Celtics in seven games.[29] The Lakers earned Riley his second NBA title in 1985 in a rematch of the previous year, as the Lakers beat the Celtics in six games. The Lakers' four-year Western Conference streak was broken the following year by the Houston Rockets.

In 1987, Riley coached a Lakers team that is considered one of the best teams of all time. With future Hall of Famers Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, plus Byron Scott, A.C. Green, Mychal Thompson, Kurt Rambis, and Cooper, the Lakers finished 65–17 in the regular season, third-best in team history. They met with similar success in the playoffs, dispatching the Celtics in six games to win Riley his third NBA title.

One of Riley's most famous moments came when he guaranteed the crowd a repeat championship during the Lakers' championship parade in downtown Los Angeles (he first made the guarantee during the post-victory locker room celebration).[30] While the 1988 Lakers did not produce as many wins in the regular season as the 1987 Lakers, they still won the NBA title, becoming the first team in 19 years to repeat as champions. The Lakers beat the Detroit Pistons in seven games in the 1988 NBA Finals, making good on Riley's promise. Riley's titles with the Lakers make him one of six men to play for an NBA Championship team and later coach the same NBA team to a championship; the others are George Senesky, Bill Russell, Tom Heinsohn, K. C. Jones and Billy Cunningham.

Riley (left) and Magic Johnson in 1989

Although Riley would offer no further guarantees, his Lakers embarked upon a quest to obtain a third consecutive championship in 1989. Having successfully claimed a repeat championship the year before, the term used for this new goal was a three-peat championship, and Riley, through his corporate entity, Riles & Co., trademarked the phrase three-peat. However, in a rematch of the previous year's finals series, the Lakers were swept by the Pistons in the 1989 NBA Finals.

Riley was named NBA Coach of the Year for the first time in 1989–90, but stepped down as Lakers head coach after they lost to the Phoenix Suns in the playoffs. At the time of his departure, Riley was the foremost coach in the NBA with a level of fame not seen since Red Auerbach.[31]

New York Knicks (1991–1995)

After stepping down, Riley accepted a job as a television commentator for NBC for one year before being named head coach of the New York Knicks, starting with the 1991–92 season.

Commentators admired Riley's ability to work with the physical, deliberate Knicks, adapting his "Showtime" style with the fast-paced Laker teams in the 1980s. The Chicago Bulls had easily swept the Knicks in 1991 en route to their first championship. However, in 1992, with Riley, the Knicks pushed the defending champion Bulls to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The physical defense of the Knicks against the Chicago Bulls' superstars Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen during the 1992 playoffs led to a feud between Riley and Bulls head coach Phil Jackson regarding the officiating and the Knicks' rough style of play. In 1993, Riley led the Knicks to their best regular season record in team history (tied with the 1969–1970 team) and received his second Coach of the Year award. The Knicks again met the Bulls in the Eastern Conference finals but lost in six games after winning the first two games at home. Jackson's Bulls that season went on to win the finals and accomplish a "three-peat," despite Riley's trademark in 1989.[32]

Riley returned to the NBA Finals, in 1994, en route defeating the three-time defending champion Bulls (without Michael Jordan) in seven games during the Eastern Conference semifinals. However, New York lost in seven games to the Houston Rockets after being up 3–2 in the series. During the 1994 Finals, Riley became the first coach to participate in an NBA Finals Game 7 with two teams, having been with the Lakers in 1984 and 1988. However, he had the unfortunate distinction of becoming the first (and to date, only) coach to lose an NBA Finals Game 7 with two teams, having lost to the Celtics, in 1984. It also denied him the distinction of becoming the first coach to win a Game 7 in the Finals with two teams, having defeated the Pistons in seven games, in 1988.

Miami Heat (1995–present)

In 1995, Riley resigned from the Knicks via fax to become president and head coach of the Miami Heat, with complete control over basketball operations. The move caused some controversy, as the Heat were accused by the Knicks of tampering by pursuing Riley while he still had a year remaining on his contract with the Knicks.[33] The matter was settled after the Heat sent their 1996 first-round pick (which the Knicks used to draft Walter McCarty) and $1 million in cash to the Knicks on September 1, 1995.[34]

In the 1995–96 NBA season, Riley led the Heat to a 42–40 record, which was a 10-game improvement over the team's previous season. Miami was swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Phil Jackson-coached Chicago Bulls, who went on to win the NBA championship. This Heat season was notable for personnel changes, as the team welcomed franchise building blocks Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway. Following the season, the Heat also obtained Nets forward P.J. Brown and Suns swingman Dan Majerle.[citation needed]

In 1997, Riley's Heat defeated his old team, the Knicks, in a physical seven-game series. Advancing to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in franchise history, the Heat were again defeated by the eventual champion Bulls. Riley was selected as Coach of the Year for the third time after leading Miami to a 61–21 regular season record and first place in the Atlantic Division.[citation needed]

The Heat lost to the archrival Knicks in the playoffs in 1998, 1999, and 2000. Riley then traded Brown and Jamal Mashburn in exchange for Eddie Jones in one trade and acquired Brian Grant in another, although the team suffered a major setback after Alonzo Mourning was lost for the season due to a kidney ailment. After finishing 50–32 in the 2000–01 season, the Heat were swept by the Charlotte Hornets in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The Heat then lost two of their best players when guard Tim Hardaway was traded to the Dallas Mavericks and Anthony Mason signed with the Milwaukee Bucks. In part because of these departures, the Heat crumbled to a 36–46 in 2002–the first time that a Riley-coached team had not had a winning season or made the playoffs. Riley was so disgusted with the Heat's performance that he declared he was about to "fire himself".[citation needed]

After the Heat finished the 2002–03 season 25–57, Riley stepped down as head coach and was succeeded by longtime assistant Stan Van Gundy. In the 2003 NBA draft, the Heat held the fifth overall pick, which they used to select Dwyane Wade. In July 2004, Riley traded Caron Butler, Brian Grant, Lamar Odom, and a first-round draft pick to the Lakers for star center Shaquille O'Neal. Wade and O'Neal led the Heat to the Eastern Conference finals during the 2005 playoffs, where they lost to the defending champions Detroit Pistons after leading the series 3–2.[35]

Riley in 2007 during his second stint as the Heat's coach

During the 2005 off-season, it was widely speculated that Riley was attempting to push Van Gundy out and make himself head coach once again now that the team was a championship contender.[36] Van Gundy resigned from his position just 21 games into the 2005–06 season, citing a need to spend more time with his family, and Riley named himself as Van Gundy's successor.[37] Riley's Heat team defeated the Detroit Pistons in the 2006 Eastern Conference finals on June 2, 2006, the first time Miami reached the finals. Riley's Heat squared off against the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Finals. Despite losing the first two games, the Heat rallied to win the next four and their first NBA championship. After Game 6, Riley commented that he had packed one suit, one shirt, and one tie for the trip to Dallas. It was Riley's fifth championship as a head coach and his first with a team other than the Lakers.[38]

Citing hip and knee problems, Riley took a leave of absence from coaching from January 3, 2007, through February 19, 2007. Assistant coach Ron Rothstein assumed interim duties. The Heat finished the season 44–38 and were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Chicago Bulls, the first defending champions swept in the first round since the Philadelphia Warriors in 1957.[39] The following season, the Heat finished 15–67. The team had lost several of its players to extended injuries, and a disgruntled Shaquille O'Neal was traded mid-season. Two years after winning the championship, they finished with one of the worst seasons in NBA history.[40] It also tied the Heat's inaugural season of 1988–89 as the worst in franchise history, and was easily the worst full-season record compiled by a Riley-coached team.

On April 28, 2008, Riley announced that he would step down as head coach while remaining team president. He named assistant Erik Spoelstra as head coach.[41] Although the Heat have nominally had a general manager for most of Riley's tenure as team president (Randy Pfund until 2008, and Andy Elisburg since 2013), Riley has had the final say in basketball matters since his arrival in Miami.[42][43]

In 2010, Riley acquired LeBron James and Chris Bosh to form the Heat's "Big Three" with Dwyane Wade. The Heat reached the NBA Finals each of the next four seasons (2011 through 2014). In 2012, the Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder to give Riley his first championship purely as an executive. The Heat repeated as champions in 2013, defeating the San Antonio Spurs.

In the 2019–20 season, the Heat became the fourth team in NBA history to finish lower than fourth place in their conference in the regular season and make it to the NBA Finals. The 2019–20 Heat team has been considered by some to be Riley's "magnum opus", since the team's Finals run was not preceded by a dramatic rebuild or by the selection of a high draft pick. Before the season, Riley traded for Jimmy Butler, drafted Tyler Herro, and signed the undrafted Kendrick Nunn. Before the 2019–20 trade deadline, the Heat obtained Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder.[2] Facing Riley's former team, the Los Angeles Lakers (led by former Heat superstar LeBron James), the Heat were defeated in six games.[44] In 2023, the Heat had a similarly unprecedented run to the finals as an 8th-seeded team, becoming the second 8th seed to reach the finals. Ironically, the first were the Knicks, who defeated Riley's 1st-seeded Heat in the 1999 playoffs. However, the Heat lost to the Denver Nuggets in five games.

Outside basketball

Riley and the Miami Heat with President George W. Bush, February 2007

Outside basketball, Riley has developed into a pop culture figure. This is born out of Riley's signature look, a slicked-back hairstyle, which is often described as gangster- or mafioso-like, and his immaculate tan. Riley's nickname is "The Godfather" because of his appearance.[45]

In 1988, Riley published a book entitled Showtime: Inside the Lakers' Breakthrough Season, a New York Times best-seller which recapped the Lakers' successful run to the 1987 NBA Championship. One of the phrases Riley coined in the book was the "Disease of More", stating that "success is often the first step toward disaster" and that defending champions often fail the following season because every player who returns wants more playing time, more shots per game, and more money. The phrase stemmed from the Lakers' disappointing 1980–81 campaign coming off a championship the previous season.[citation needed]

In 1993, while coaching the New York Knicks, Riley published a second New York Times bestseller entitled The Winner Within: A Life Plan for Team Players. Aimed at business leadership as well as basketball enthusiasts, it distilled a lesson in teamwork and leadership from each of Riley's seasons as a coach to that date. Byron Laursen, saluted by Riley as "...a true Showtime Warrior", co-authored both of Riley's books.[citation needed]

Riley is known for his friendship with Giorgio Armani, preferring to wear Armani suits during basketball games and modeling once at an Armani show.[46]

Riley has been married to the former Christine Rodstrom since June 26, 1970. In 1985, the Rileys adopted a son, James Patrick.[47] In 1989, they adopted a daughter, Elisabeth.[48] Riley is a practicing Roman Catholic.[49]

On February 27, 2007, the Miami Heat were honored for their 2005–2006 NBA Championship at the White House. During the ceremony, Riley presented George W. Bush with a jersey before announcing, "I voted for the man. If you don't vote, you don't count." After the ceremony, Riley was questioned by reporters about the political nature of his comments. He responded by saying, "I'm pro-American, pro-democracy, I'm pro-government. I follow my boss. He's my boss."[50]

Career statistics

Legend
  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
 †  Won an NBA championship

NBA

Regular season

NBA regular season statistics[51]
Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
1967–68 San Diego 80 15.8 .379 .634 2.2 1.7 7.9
1968–69 San Diego 56 18.3 .406 .672 2.0 2.4 8.8
1969–70 San Diego 36 13.2 .417 .727 1.6 2.4 5.3
1970–71 L.A. Lakers 54 9.4 .413 .644 1.0 1.3 4.9
1971–72 L.A. Lakers 67 13.8 .447 .743 1.9 1.1 6.7
1972–73 L.A. Lakers 55 14.6 .428 .793 1.2 1.5 7.3
1973–74 L.A. Lakers 72 18.9 .430 .764 1.8 2.1 .8 .0 9.5
1974–75 L.A. Lakers 46 22.1 .419 .742 1.8 2.6 .8 .1 11.0
1975–76 L.A. Lakers 2 11.5 .385 .333 1.5 .0 .5 .5 5.5
1975–76 Phoenix 60 13.2 .389 .730 .8 1.0 .4 .1 4.6
Career 528 15.5 .414 .705 1.6 1.7 .6 .1 7.4

Playoffs

NBA playoffs statistics[51]
Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
1969 San Diego 5 15.2 .432 .833 2.2 .4 7.4
1971 L.A. Lakers 7 19.3 .420 .727 2.1 2.0 9.4
1972 L.A. Lakers 15 16.3 .333 .750 1.9 .9 5.2
1973 L.A. Lakers 7 7.6 .333 .7 1.0 2.6
1974 L.A. Lakers 5 21.2 .360 .750 1.2 2.0 .8 .0 7.8
1976 Phoenix 5 5.4 .400 1.000 .0 1.0 .0 .0 2.6
Career 44 14.6 .374 .763 1.5 1.2 .4 .0 5.7

College

College statistics[52]
Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
1964–65 Kentucky 25 33.0 .432 .618 8.5 1.1 15.0
1965–66 Kentucky 29 37.2 .516 .699 8.9 2.2 22.0
1966–67 Kentucky 26 36.7 .442 .782 7.7 2.6 17.4
Career 80 35.7 .469 .714 8.4 2.0 18.3

Head coaching record

Legend
Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win–loss %
Playoffs PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win–loss %
Coaching statistics[53]
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
L.A. Lakers 1981–82 71 50 21 .704 1st in Pacific 14 12 2 .857 Won NBA Championship
L.A. Lakers 1982–83 82 58 24 .707 1st in Pacific 15 8 7 .533 Lost in NBA Finals
L.A. Lakers 1983–84 82 54 28 .659 1st in Pacific 21 14 7 .667 Lost in NBA Finals
L.A. Lakers 1984–85 82 62 20 .756 1st in Pacific 19 15 4 .789 Won NBA Championship
L.A. Lakers 1985–86 82 62 20 .756 1st in Pacific 14 8 6 .571 Lost in Conference finals
L.A. Lakers 1986–87 82 65 17 .793 1st in Pacific 18 15 3 .833 Won NBA Championship
L.A. Lakers 1987–88 82 62 20 .756 1st in Pacific 25 15 9 .625 Won NBA Championship
L.A. Lakers 1988–89 82 57 25 .695 1st in Pacific 15 11 4 .733 Lost in NBA Finals
L.A. Lakers 1989–90 82 63 19 .768 1st in Pacific 9 4 5 .444 Lost in Conference semifinals
New York 1991–92 82 51 31 .622 1st in Atlantic 12 6 6 .500 Lost in Conference semifinals
New York 1992–93 82 60 22 .732 1st in Atlantic 15 9 6 .600 Lost in Conference finals
New York 1993–94 82 57 25 .695 1st in Atlantic 25 14 11 .560 Lost in NBA Finals
New York 1994–95 82 55 27 .671 2nd in Atlantic 11 6 5 .545 Lost in Conference semifinals
Miami 1995–96 82 42 40 .512 3rd in Atlantic 3 0 3 .000 Lost in First round
Miami 1996–97 82 61 21 .744 1st in Atlantic 17 8 9 .471 Lost in Conference finals
Miami 1997–98 82 55 27 .671 1st in Atlantic 5 2 3 .400 Lost in First round
Miami 1998–99 50 33 17 .660 1st in Atlantic 5 2 3 .400 Lost in First round
Miami 1999–00 82 52 30 .634 1st in Atlantic 10 6 4 .600 Lost in Conference semifinals
Miami 2000–01 82 50 32 .610 2nd in Atlantic 3 0 3 .000 Lost in First round
Miami 2001–02 82 36 46 .439 6th in Atlantic Missed playoffs
Miami 2002–03 82 25 57 .305 7th in Atlantic Missed playoffs
Miami 2005–06 61 41 20 .672 1st in Southeast 23 16 7 .696 Won NBA Championship
Miami 2006–07 82 44 38 .537 1st in Southeast 4 0 4 .000 Lost in First round
Miami 2007–08 82 15 67 .183 5th in Southeast Missed playoffs
Career 1,904 1,210 694 .636   282 171 111 .606  

Awards and honors

NBA

NCAA

Halls of Fame

See also

References

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