Riley Steps Down, Spoelstra Named Head Coach

MIAMI, April 28 – Miami HEAT President and Head Coach Pat Riley announced this afternoon that he has decided to step down as Head Coach of the Miami HEAT, but will continue to serve as team President. HEAT Managing General Partner Micky Arison and Riley jointly announced that former Assistant Coach/Director of Scouting Erik Spoelstra has been elevated to head coach. Spoelstra becomes the sixth head coach in franchise history.

“The game of basketball is a game about talent,” said Riley. “While we are always looking for NBA talent to perform on the court, the most important talent that you may find has to perform on the bench, in the locker room, on the practice court, late at night, watching film, motivating and executing all the responsibilities of a head coach. I believe Erik Spoelstra is one of the most talented young coaches to come around in a long time. This game is now about younger coaches who are technologically skilled, innovative and bring fresh new ideas. That’s what we feel we are getting with Erik Spoelstra. He’s a man that was born to coach.”

Spoelstra just completed his 13th season as a member of the HEAT staff and his seventh in the role of Assistant Coach/Director of Scouting where he had the primary role of developing game plans for upcoming opponents. Spoelstra was responsible for coordinating the video staff and advance scouts while also overseeing the development of scouting reports and videos. He has been in charge of the HEAT’s Individual Player Development Program and has served as the head coach of the HEAT’s summer league squad each of the past three summers.

The 37-year old Portland native originally joined the HEAT as the team’s video coordinator in 1995. He spent two years in that role where he was responsible for preparing scouting tapes and heading up the team’s information technology for the coaching staff. He served as Assistant Coach/Video Coordinator the following two seasons (1997-99). He was then promoted to Assistant Coach/Advance Scout and served in that role for two seasons (1999-01) before being elevated to Assistant Coach/Director of Scouting the role he has served in the past seven years. Spoelstra has become the NBA’s youngest current head coach, born on Nov. 1, 1970 in Evanston, IL. He is 69 days younger than the second youngest head coach, Lawrence Frank of the New Jersey Nets.

A 1992 graduate from the University of Portland, Spoelstra was the starting point guard for four years for the Pilots and was named the West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year. After college he spent two years as a player/coach for Tus Herten, a team in the professional sports league of Germany.

Spoesltra is the son of Jon Spoelstra, a long-time NBA executive who has guided the Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets and New Jersey Nets. Riley joined the HEAT as President and Head Coach on Sept. 2, 1995. In his two stints as head coach (1995-2003 and 2005-08) he guided the HEAT to a 454-395 (.535) record with one NBA title, one conference championship, six division championships and eight playoff berths in his 11 seasons on the bench. In addition to ranking as Miami’s all-time victory leader, Riley ranks third on the NBA’s all-time regular season list, compiling a 1,210-694 (.636) career mark in 24 seasons as an NBA head coach with the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Miami HEAT. He also ranks second on the all-time postseason victory list amassing a 171-111 (.606) mark. Riley, who was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame earlier this month, has led his teams to five NBA championships as a head coach, nine conference championships and a league-record 18 division championships. He is the only coach in league history to capture the NBA Coach of the Year Award with three different teams and his string of 19 consecutive playoff appearances as a head coach from 1982-2001 is a league record for consecutive postseason appearances. His 21 total postseason appearances are also the most by a head coach in NBA history. He has been named NBA Coach of the Month an NBA-record 11 times and has more 50-win (17) and 60-win (7) seasons than any coach in NBA history. Additionally, when he registered his 1,000th regular season victory on Nov. 1, 2000, he became the fastest coach or manager to reach 1,000 wins in the history of the four professional sports in North America, bettering the previous mark held by Fred Clarke of the Pittsburgh Pirates by 144 games. Riley recorded his 1,000th win in just his 1,434th game. On Feb. 29, 2008 he became the only coach in NBA history to record at least 450 wins with two franchises as he guided the HEAT to a 103-93 win in Seattle. Riley currently stands as the all-time leader in both regular season and postseason victories for both the Lakers and the HEAT and owns the highest winning percentage in Knicks history.