College - Kentucky
Entering his 12th season with Miami, HEAT President & Head Coach Pat Riley has established a standard of excellence within the franchise, both on and off the court, that has allowed the team to reach unprecedented heights and has positioned it as one of the most successful in the NBA. Never was that more evident then when Riley guided his group of “15 Strong” to the franchise’s first NBA championship in Dallas on June 20, 2006. After the game, Riley commented that he had packed one suit, one shirt and one tie for the trip to Dallas, what he brought back to Miami was one championship, fulfilling a vision he spoke about when arriving in Miami in 1995.
When he returned to the sidelines for his second stint as the HEAT head coach on Dec. 12, 2005, after a two-year hiatus from the bench where he concentrated on building the team from the front office, many experts questioned whether the Miami team that he assembled was capable of reaching the NBA’s ultimate destination. Six months later the answer was a resounding “yes”, as Riley had successfully navigated the HEAT to the pinnacle of the basketball world and added more luster to a legacy and resume that did not need further validation.
Riley’s resume is filled with many milestones during an NBA career that spans 38 years as a player, assistant coach, head coach, administrator and broadcaster and has produced seven NBA championships. He has compiled a 1,151-589 (.661) all-time record guiding the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and the Miami HEAT during a 22-year head coaching career that is one of the most impressive in all of sports. His 1,151 regular season victories trail only Lenny Wilkens and Don Nelson on the NBA’s all-time list. His 171 postseason victories rank second in NBA history, just seven behind Phil Jackson. His 278 postseason games coached rank first all-time in the league. His five NBA championships as a head coach tie him with John Kundla for the third highest total in NBA history. Riley has averaged over 52 wins per season in his coaching career. His .661 winning percentage in regular season play and 1,740 games coached both rank sixth all-time in the NBA and his .615 postseason winning percentage ranks ninth all-time in the league annuals. In 1996-97 as the NBA celebrated its 50th Anniversary, Riley received one of the highest honors bestowed upon an NBA coach when he was named one of the Top 10 Coaches of All-Time by a panel of media who regularly cover the league. Simply put, Riley is a winner.
No matter the odds, “getting the job done” has never been a problem for a person who has seen winning from all angles. As a youthful role player for the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, Riley earned the first of his seven NBA championship rings. He claimed another as an assistant under Lakers coach Paul Westhead in 1979-80. The New York native collected four more titles for the Lakers as the team’s top man in 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988. Eighteen years later, he guided the HEAT to their first NBA Championship, his fifth as a head coach. The 18-year span between championships as a head coach established an NBA record. His teams have advanced to the NBA Finals nine times and the Conference Finals on 12 occasions. As a head coach, he has captured 17 divisional championships, nine conference championships and five NBA titles. He has been honored as the NBA Coach of the Year on three occasions, the only coach in NBA history to receive the award with three different teams. Riley has also captured NBA Coach of the Month honors a league-record 10 times. His 20 total postseason appearances as a head coach are tops in league history, one more than Hall of Fame coach Red Auerbach and his string of 19 consecutive postseason appearances as a head coach from 1982-2001 set a league record for consecutive postseason appearances. Riley has also served as a head coach in nine NBA All-Star games.
In his illustrious career, Riley has guided his teams to at least 50 wins in a season an NBA-record 17 times, four more than the closest coach in league history. He also has registered an NBA-record seven 60-win seasons, accomplishing the milestone with each of the three franchises he guided. When he began the 2000-01 season with an Opening Night victory over intrastate rival Orlando on November 1, he became the fastest coach or manager to reach 1,000 wins in the history of the four professional sports in North America. Not only did Riley break the record, he smashed the mark previously held by Fred Clarke of the Pittsburgh Pirates, bettering it by an astonishing 144 games. Riley recorded his 1,000th victory in just his 1,434th game. On Mar. 11, 2003 with a 77-75 victory in Cleveland, he became the only head coach in NBA history to record at least 350 victories with two different franchises. Riley currently stands as the all-time leader in both regular season and postseason victories for both the Lakers and the HEAT.
Always recognized as one of the league’s best coaches, Riley continues to work his magic in the front office as well. During his tenure leading the HEAT, he has brought excitement to the organization by managing to pull off some of the biggest blockbuster trades in the NBA. Those trades have netted the HEAT All-Stars Shaquille O’Neal, Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway and Eddie Jones. Riley also made trades to acquire talented players Brian Grant, Jamal Mashburn and Anthony Mason who all made big contributions to the HEAT’s success. Prior to last season, he once again made headlines throughout the league as he helped engineer the largest trade in NBA history, a five-team, 13-player blockbuster, in which the HEAT obtained All-Star forward Antoine Walker from Boston and point guard Jason Williams and swingman James Posey from Memphis, all key contributors in the HEAT’s first NBA championship.
He has also used the free agent market to help build the HEAT into a championship team. Riley made a big splash in free agency in the summer of 2003 when he signed Lamar Odom, who went on to enjoy his finest NBA season before becoming the centerpiece in the trade to acquire the 11-time All-Star O’Neal. Riley has also added solid veterans in P.J. Brown, Dan Majerle, Terry Porter, Damon Jones, Michael Doleac and Gary Payton through the free agent route. Additionally, he has supplemented the roster over the years by signing unheralded free agents Malik Allen, Rafer Alston, Isaac Austin, Bruce Bowen, Udonis Haslem and Voshon Lenard. Using every option available to him, Riley has also added quality youth to the team through the successful drafting of Dwyane Wade, Caron Butler, Dorell Wright and Wayne Simien. It’s moves like these that have bolstered Riley’s reputation as being a shrewd judge of talent, helping the HEAT maintain a standard of excellence unparalleled within the NBA.
With all the big moves Riley has made to shape the HEAT, the most important trade he was involved with might very well have been the one that delivered him to Miami. Looking to change the face of an organization in its infancy, and become a solid contender year after year, HEAT Managing General Partner Micky Arison agreed to send a first-round draft pick and $1 million dollars to the New York Knicks on September 1, 1995 for the rights to Pat Riley. One day later, Riley was named the team’s fourth head coach and team president. From that point, the face of the organization changed. Riley brought with him star power, a proven track record, professionalism and results. Since he arrived in 1995, the HEAT has compiled a 507-363 (.583) record, the sixth best mark in the NBA over that 11-year span and the third best in the Eastern Conference. Miami has made nine postseason appearances since his arrival and its six division titles in the last 10 seasons are tied with San Antonio for the most in the NBA. With him came a winning culture that was lacking and now the HEAT is recognized as one of the hardest working, most respected organizations throughout the NBA.
During his first stint guiding the HEAT, Riley led Miami to 354 victories and four division titles over an eight-year period. His teams captured four consecutive Atlantic Division championships from 1996-2000, a mark of dominance not seen in the Atlantic Division since the Celtics had won five straight division titles from 1983-88. Riley, Miami’s all-time leader in games coached with 685, has compiled a 395-290 record (.569 winning percentage) during his nine seasons on the sidelines in South Florida and guided the HEAT to seven playoff appearances and 34 postseason victories. Prior to his arrival the franchise had compiled a 205-369 (.357) mark, with one winning season, two playoff appearances and two postseason wins in its first seven years. Upon his arrival, Riley turned the fortunes of the franchise around. Through his tireless work ethic he has transformed the Miami HEAT into one of the premier franchises in all of professional sports.
Certainly regarded as one of the league’s top coaches of all-time, Riley added to his legacy in the 2000-01 season when, in addition to earning his 1,000th career victory, he turned in what many experts claim was one of the best coaching jobs of his amazing career. After re-working the roster in the summer of 2000 by acquiring three-time All-Star Eddie Jones and hard-working power forward Brian Grant to make a run at a possible championship, Riley had to guide the franchise through one of the biggest jolts in its history. On October 16, in the middle of the pre-season, Alonzo Mourning, the team’s centerpiece, announced that due to a kidney disease (focal glomerulosclerosis) he was expected to miss the entire season. After Miami received the devastating news most experts predicted the HEAT season was over and that they would not make the playoffs. But Riley, as he has proven throughout his career, demonstrated his ability to adapt and lead. He guided the HEAT to a 50-32 record for a second place finish in the Atlantic Division and the third best record in the conference. All this despite the fact he had to constantly re-make his team’s line-up as Miami would rack up a total of 283 missed player games due to injury, one of the highest totals in the NBA that season. In addition to Mourning, key contributors Jones, Hardaway and Majerle were all saddled with injuries during the season.
The future Hall of Fame coach guided the HEAT to one of its most successful seasons during the 1999-2000 campaign. Riley led Miami to a 52-30 mark and its fourth consecutive Atlantic Division crown. In the process he guided the HEAT to the Eastern Conference Semifinals after recording the franchise’s first playoff sweep, a 3-0 Opening Round triumph against the Detroit Pistons. That season also culminated a dream for the franchise as Riley ushered Miami into its beautiful new home, the AmericanAirlines Arena, a state-of-the-art downtown bayside arena. The HEAT christened the arena with an exciting overtime win in the inaugural game against Orlando on January 2, in a game which saw Miami erase a 10-point deficit in the final 2:33 of regulation.
The 1998-99 season saw the HEAT finish with a 33-17 overall record, capturing its third straight division championship in the lockout shortened season. The .660 winning percentage gave Miami the top seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Riley also set some lofty marks of his own during the season as he surpassed legendary coaches Dick Motta, Red Auerbach, and Bill Fitch to become the second winningest coach in NBA history before being subsequently passed several years later by Don Nelson.
The accolades kept pouring in during the 1997-98 season for the hard-working Riley. On March 1, he became the fifth coach in NBA history to win 900 games, doing it in 1,278 games, quicker than any coach in NBA history, breaking Auerbach’s record of 1,360. In addition, Riley was named February Coach of the Month after guiding Miami to a league-best 13-2 record. The team established a franchise-record for road wins in a month (nine) and the 13 wins and .867 monthly winning percentage both rank second in franchise history. On February 10, 1998, he became the winningest coach in HEAT history when Miami defeated Cleveland, 91-81, for HEAT win number 134.
In 1996-97, in just his second year with Miami, Riley guided the HEAT to the best regular season mark in franchise history and built the foundation for success that the organization has enjoyed ever since. He garnered a third NBA Coach of the Year honor with his third team, an unprecedented feat in league history, after leading Miami to a 61-21 (.744) record and the HEAT’s first trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. The 60-win season was a first for Miami, but marked the seventh for Riley, who has won at least 60 games in a season with each of the three organizations he has coached. He guided Miami to its second consecutive Atlantic Division championship and exciting playoff series wins over Orlando and New York which each went the maximum number of games. He also earned the honor of being selected one of the Top 10 Coaches in NBA history as part of the league’s 50th Anniversary celebration.
On the eve of his first season in Miami, Riley changed the look of the HEAT by designing a six-player trade that brought in Mourning, who became the HEAT’s first All-Star that season. He sprang into action again on February 22, 1996, making three trades involving 10 players just hours before the trading deadline that cleared the way for future free agent signings and brought Hardaway to Miami, a player many believed was past his prime. Hardaway made the All-Star Team twice during his stint with Riley and in 1996-97 was named to the backcourt with Michael Jordan on the All-NBA First Team.
Despite all the sweeping changes in 1995-96, Riley’s first season in Miami was a success. The team finished 42-40, a 10-win improvement over the previous season, despite the fact a franchise-record 22 players appeared in at least one game that season for the HEAT. Miami excelled at what has become a Riley trademark: meshing as a team. The HEAT finished with an 18-11 mark after the trade deadline and advanced to the playoffs for just the third time in franchise history.
Before joining the HEAT, Riley spent four successful seasons as the head coach of the New York Knicks. Prior to Riley’s arrival the Knicks had posted just four winning seasons in the previous 10 years (1981-91). During his four-year stint in New York, Riley guided the Knicks to four straight winning seasons, four consecutive playoff berths and compiled a 223-105 record. His .680 winning percentage is the best in Knicks history, easily outdistancing former assistant Jeff Van Gundy who ranks second (.590), and his 223 victories rank fourth on the club’s all-time list. He recorded at least 50 wins in each of his four seasons in New York, the only time in Knicks history the team posted at least 50 wins in four consecutive years. The highlight of his career with the Knicks was leading them to the 1994 NBA Finals, New York’s first trip to the Finals since the 1972-73 season. Riley’s teams won three consecutive Atlantic Division titles in his first three years (1991-94) in New York, and his tireless dedication earned him his second NBA Coach of the Year honor in 1993. In his first year with the Knicks they improved by 12 victories over the previous season (from 39 to 51).
Prior to leading the Knicks, Riley was head coach of the Lakers for nine years and guided the team to four NBA titles and three other NBA Finals appearances during its glory years. After taking over for Paul Westhead 11 games into the 1981-82 season, he led the Lakers to the NBA Championship. Under Riley, the Lakers became the first team to win 60 games in four consecutive NBA seasons (1984-85 through 1987-88). He won the Pacific Division title in each of his nine years leading the Lakers and was honored as the 1990 NBA Coach of the Year. He compiled a 533-194 (.733) regular season record in his nine seasons in L.A. and won at least 50 games in each of the nine years. Riley, who averaged 59 regular season wins a season in L.A., brought “Showtime” to the Great Western Forum. Under Riley the Lakers recorded a 305-59 (.838) regular season mark at home. His teams also compiled a 102-47 (.685) postseason record. Both the 533 regular season wins and the 102 postseason victories rank first on the Lakers all-time list.
After leaving the Lakers, Riley served as co-host of “NBA Showtime” on NBC in 1990-91 before joining the Knicks in the fall of 1991. It was a return to the television booth for Riley who was Chick Hearn’s partner on Lakers’ broadcasts after his playing days ended (1977-79). He returned to the bench early in the 1979-80 campaign when Lakers’ Head Coach Paul Westhead asked him to become an assistant.
As a player, Riley had an extensive nine-year career. He was the 1967 first-round pick (seventh overall) of the San Diego Rockets for their inaugural 1967-68 season. After three seasons, he joined the Lakers’ in 1970-71 and played five years. He was a member of the 1971-72 Lakers that won a then-NBA record 33 consecutive games and the NBA Championship. Riley finished his playing career with the 1976 Western Conference Champion Phoenix Suns.
Born in Schenectady, NY, Riley attended Linton High School where he became a two-sport star in basketball and football. He was a member of the Linton basketball team that beat historic Power Memorial High and center Lew Alcindor, who, as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, would later lead Riley’s Lakers to greatness. As a tribute to his accomplishments, Linton renamed its gym in Riley’s honor in 1997 and inducted him into its hall of fame in 2000.
After turning down an offer to play football for Bear Bryant at Alabama, Riley decided instead to play basketball for Adolph Rupp at Kentucky from 1963-67. He was a collegiate star, earning team MVP honors three times and averaging 22 points per game on the Wildcats’ famed “Rupp’s Runts” squad that lost in the 1966 NCAA Finals to Texas Western. A gifted athlete, he was an 11th-round draft choice of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys in 1967 although he never played college football. His brother, Lee, played defensive back for the Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Giants of the NFL (1955-60) and for the New York Titans of the American Football League (1961-62). His father, Leon, was a major league catcher/outfielder with Philadelphia in 1944 and became a minor league manager in the Phillies’ organization.
Along with his wife, Chris, Riley has been involved with numerous charity and community service projects throughout his career. They founded The Miami HEAT Family Outreach in 1997 which has raised over $5 million for the South Florida community and whose beneficiaries include Jackson Memorial Foundation’s Guardian Angels which supports the Holtz Center for seriously ill children, and SafeSpace which is a domestic violence shelter for women and their children. They are also involved in the Pediatric AIDS Foundation’s Kids for Kids organization which they started in 1992 in New York, and the YMCA in Los Angeles, New York, and Miami. For over 30 years the Riley’s have been actively involved with Boys and Girls Clubs of America. As a result of his efforts, Riley has received many prestigious awards, including the Miami Project Sports Legend Award in 1992, Boys and Girls Clubs Miami Person of the Year Award in 1998, and was honored by the YMCA Miami in 1998.
Riley is not only one of professional basketball’s winningest coaches, but his speeches before hundreds of corporations have earned him the title of “America’s Greatest Motivational Speaker.” He has been rated by Success Magazine as “The best in his field.” Riley has also completed an award winning 30-minute motivational video entitled “Teamwork” in which he applies his winning philosophies to business and life in general. In addition to being one of the most sought after motivational speakers in the country, Riley has authored two books, “Show Time” and “The Winner Within”. Pat and his wife, Chris, have two children, James Patrick, and Elisabeth Marie.