Many coaches in NBA History have had a significant impact on the game. Coaches such as Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson, and Greg Popovich are influential coaches who amassed great success. However, few coaching figures in this league have been as influential as coach Pat Riley.
Pat Riley's career as a player, coach, and executive in the NBA has spanned nearly six decades. During his playing career, Pat Riley made a significant impact. However, his legacy will be defined by the fantastic career that he has had as a coach and an executive. Riley's success wasn't primarily due to luck like an individual would have in sports betting. In this piece, we are going to go over the legendary career of Pat Riley.
Pat Riley's basketball career started when he played for the Kentucky Wildcats. He played there for all four years of college. One year was spent on the freshman team, while three were on the primary college basketball team. 1966 Riley earned All-SEC and All-Tournament team accolades while leading his team to the 1966 NCAA title game against Texas Western.
In 1967, Pat Riley was the seventh overall pick by the San Diego Rockets in that year's NBA Draft. Interestingly enough, he was also drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 11th round of the 1967 NFL Draft, even though he hadn't played one second of college football.
Riley played three seasons for the Rockets before transitioning to the Portland Trail Blazers as part of the 1970 NBA expansion draft.
The Blazers would trade Riley to the LA Lakers. Riley would play five seasons for the Lakers. (1970-1975). As a role player, he would win an NBA Championship with the Lakers in 1972.
After being traded to the Suns, Riley retired from the NBA in 1976. He would rejoin the Lakers franchise as a broadcaster. Three years later, he would become an assistant coach under then-Lakers coach Paul Westhead.
The Lakers would win the 1980 NBA Finals by defeating the 76ers within one year of taking the assistant head coaching job.
Two years later, Pat Riley was named the full-time head coach of the LA Lakers. Under Pat Riley, the "Showtime" Lakers were born. With Magic Johnson and Kareem as the main stars, he would help to establish an up-tempo style that would make the Lakers one of the dominant teams of the 1980s. The LA Lakers won four NBA championships during the 1980s. (1981-1982, 1984-1985, 1986-1987, 1987-1988)
Pat Riley would depart from the Lakers from the 1989-1990 season. His next gig would become the head coach of the NY Knicks. He amassed 50+ win seasons in every season he coached there. He would take the Knicks to the Finals in 1993-1994.
After the 1994-1995 season, Pat Riley resigned from the Knicks to become the head coach of the Miami Heat. He was also named president of basketball operations. During the early part of Riley's tenure with the Heat, the Heat would have an intense rivalry with the New York Knicks. The Heat would defeat the Knicks in the 1997 playoffs en route to the Eastern Conference Finals. However, the Knicks would eliminate the Heat from the playoffs for the next three years.
After the 2002-2003 season, Riley stepped down as head coach of the Miami Heat, yet he kept his front office role in the Heat organization. Stan Van Gundy would succeed him.
Riley would make two seismic decisions to help transform the Heat back to prominence. In the 2003 NBA Draft, Riley drafted Dwyane Wade with the 5th overall pick. In the summer of 2004, Pat Riley traded three players and a 1st round pick for Shaquille O'Neal.
In 2005-2006, Stan Van Gundy resigned as Miami Heat head coach 21 games into the season. Pat Riley would take over as Miami Heat head coach. Sparked by an outstanding NBA Finals performance by Dwyane Wade, Riley would lead the Miami Heat to an upset of the Dallas Mavericks to win their first championship in franchise history. This would be Riley's 5th championship as a coach.
Riley resigned as Miami Heat head coach in 2008. Yet, he remained the team president of the Miami Heat.
Two years later, Pat Riley would acquire both Lebron James and Chris Bosh to form a dynamic trip with Dwyane Wade. The Miami Heat would make the NBA Finals four seasons in a row. (2011-2014). They would win 2 championships within that period.
Pat Riley has won nine championships as a player, head coach, assistant coach, and front office executive. He is the 1st person in the history of North American sports to accomplish that feat.
As a head coach, Riley won over 1210 regular and 171 playoff games.
Riley was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008. He is also a recipient of the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award. Pat Riley was named one of the Top 15 coaches during the NBA's 75th anniversary season.
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