Pat Riley Named Hall of Fame Finalist
MIAMI, FL 2/16 HEAT President and Head Coach Pat Riley headlined a group of 15 Finalists announced today by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame during 2008 NBA All-Star Weekend festivities in New Orleans, LA. Riley joined former New York Knicks center Patrick Ewing and former Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon as Finalists in their first year of consideration. The Hall of Fame Class of 2008 will be announced on Monday, April 7 at a news conference in San Antonio, TX prior to the NCAA Mens Division 1 Championship game. A finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. The Class of 2008 will be enshrined during festivities in Springfield, MA September 4-6, 2008.
The complete list of 15 Finalists includes a total of 10 candidates from the North American Screening Committee. In addition to Riley, Ewing and Olajuwon those Finalists include players Adrian Dantley, the late Dennis Johnson and Chris Mullin; coach Don Nelson; and contributors Victor Bubas, Bill Davidson and Dick Vitale. Two candidates, player Richie Guerin and contributor Johnny Red Kerr were nominated by the Veterans Screening Committee. The International Screening Committee will be represented by coach Togo Soares and player Maciel Ubiratan Pereira (both from Brazil) and coach Cathy Rush is the lone nominee from the Womens Screening Committee.
Riley, in his 13th season with the HEAT, has experienced success at all levels and in all realms of the game, but made his greatest mark on the game as one of the elite coaches in NBA history. He currently stands as the third winningest coach in NBA regular season history, compiling a sterling 1,204-669 (.643) regular season record and ranks second in playoff victories with a 171-111 (.606) postseason mark. He has earned seven NBA champion rings during his illustrious career, five as a head coach, one as an assistant coach and one as a player. 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. He is the only coach to win NBA Coach of the Year honors with three different franchises, capturing the award with each of the three organizations he has served as a head coach. He is the all-time leader in both regular season and postseason victories for both the Miami HEAT and the Los Angeles Lakers and owns the highest all-time winning percentage in the history of the New York Knicks.
As a head coach, he has captured 18 divisional championships, nine conference championships and five NBA titles. His teams have advanced to the NBA Finals nine times and the Conference Finals on 12 occasions. The New York native collected four titles while coaching the Lakers in 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988. Eighteen years later, he guided the Miami 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. Riley has captured NBA Coach of the Month honors a league-record 11 times. His 21 postseason appearances as a head coach are tops in league history and his string of 19 consecutive playoff appearances as a head coach from 1982-2001 set a league record for consecutive postseason appearances. Additionally Riley has served as a head coach in nine NBA All-Star games.
During his remarkable career, Riley has guided teams to at least 50 wins in a season an NBA-record 17 times, four more than the closest coach in league history. He has also registered an NBA-record seven 60-win seasons, accomplishing the milestone with each of the three franchises he has guided as a head coach. Riley is the only coach in NBA history to win at least 400 games with two different franchises as he has guided the Lakers to 533 wins and the HEAT to 448 victories. He reached the coaching milestones of 300 wins, 400 wins, 800 wins, 1,000 wins, 1,100 wins and 1,200 wins faster than any coach in NBA history.
A three-time team MVP and a member of the famed Rupps Runts that lost in the 1966 NCAA Finals to Texas Western, Riley starred collegiately at the University of Kentucky from 1963-67. He entered the NBA as a first-round draft pick (seventh overall) of the San Diego Rockets for their inaugural 1967-68 season. After three seasons, he joined the Los Angeles Lakers in 1970-71 and played five seasons. He was a member of the 1971-72 Lakers that won an NBA-record 33 consecutive games and the NBA Championship. Riley finished his playing career with the 1976 Western Conference Champion Phoenix Suns.
After his playing career concluded, Riley served as Chick Hearns partner for two years on Lakers broadcasts before joining the coaching ranks as an assistant to Paul Westhead during the 1979-80 campaign. Riley then took over for Westhead as head coach of the Lakers 11 games into the 1981-82 season. From that point on Riley achieved a level of success that is among the greatest in the history of the game.