Patrick James Riley (born March 20, 1945) is a former American National Basketball Association head coach and current team president of the Miami Heat. Widely regarded as one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time, Riley has served as the head coach of five championship teams and an assistant coach to another. He most recently won the 2006 NBA Championship with the Miami Heat. Prior to his tenure in Miami, he served as head coach for the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks. He also played for the Los Angeles Lakers' championship team in 1972, which brings his personal total to seven NBA titles. He is known as "Coach Slick" and "Mr. GQ".


Riley was born in Rome, New York, and raised in Schenectady. His father, Leon Riley, played 22 seasons of minor league baseball as an outfielder and first baseman, and appeared in four major league games for the 1944 Philadelphia Phillies.

Playing careerEdit

Riley played for Linton High School in Schenectady, New York under coaches Walt Przybylo, Bill Rapavy and Ed Catino. 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 his future coach with the Los Angeles Lakers, Linton's Riley. In 1991, Riley called it, "One of the greatest games in the history of Schenectady basketball."

Riley was a versatile athlete in college, participating in both basketball and football. He led the 1966 University of Kentucky basketball team, coached by the legendary Adolph Rupp, to the 1966 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, where they lost to Texas Western (now known as UTEP), a game that was dramatized in the movie Glory Road.

He was selected by the San Diego Rockets in the 1st round of the 1967 NBA Draft, and was also drafted as a flanker by the Dallas Cowboys in the 11th round of the 1967 NFL Draft. He joined the Rockets and was later selected by the Portland Trail Blazers, in the 1970 NBA expansion draft, but immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, which he helped win the 1972 NBA Finals, coming off the bench and guarding friend and legendary Laker guard Jerry West in practice. Despite this, overall, his playing career was undistinguished, as he was a perennial bench player. He retired after the 1975-76 NBA season as a member of the Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns.

Riley finished his NBA playing career with a 7.4 points per game scoring average and a field-goal percentage of 41.4%.

Coaching careerEdit

Los Angeles LakersEdit

Riley returned to the NBA in 1977 as a broadcaster for the Lakers. During the 1979-80 season, when the team's head coach, Jack McKinney, was injured during a near fatal bicycle accident, assistant coach Paul Westhead took over the team's head coaching duties. Riley then moved from the broadcast booth to the bench as one of Westhead's assistant coaches.

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. West made it clear during the press conference that he would only assist Riley, and that Riley was the head coach. Thereafter, Riley was the interim head coach, until his status became permanent.

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, but Riley's Lakers were swept by the 76ers. The Lakers lost in the Finals again in 1984, to the Boston Celtics in seven games. 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' six-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 important role players such as Michael Cooper, Byron Scott, A.C. Green, Mychal Thompson, and Kurt Rambis, 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). While the 1988 Lakers did not produce as many wins in the regular season as the 1987 Lakers, they still managed to win the NBA title, becoming the first team in 20 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 the fifth man to play for an NBA Championship team and later coach the same NBA team to a championship. The others are Bill Russell, Tom Heinsohn, K. C. Jones, and Billy Cunningham.

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 indeed Riley, through his corporate entity, Riles & Co., actually trademarked the phrase "three-peat" via the Chicago Bulls accomplishing the feat twice, at the professional expense of Riley himself). But ultimately, the Lakers were swept by the Pistons in the 1989 NBA Finals.

Riley stepped down as coach of the Lakers after they lost to the Phoenix Suns in the 1990 NBA playoffs, amid rumors of player mistreatment and anger problems on his part. In spite of these rumors and his resignation, he was named NBA Coach of the Year for the first time.

New York KnicksEdit

After stepping down as coach, Riley accepted a job as a television commentator for NBC. However, this job only lasted one year, as he became head coach of the New York Knicks in 1991. In 1993, he led the Knicks to the best regular season record in team history and received his second Coach of the Year award. Commentators especially admired Riley's ability to work with the physical, deliberate Knicks, considering that he was associated with the fast-paced Lakers in the 1980s. Riley returned to the NBA Finals in 1994, but his Knicks lost in seven games to the Houston Rockets after being up 3–2 in the series. However, during the finals, Riley and the Knicks saw a championship come to their home court as the New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup, defeating the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals on the Knicks home court.

Miami HeatEdit

In 1995, Riley resigned from the Knicks. 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. The matter was settled after the Heat sent their 1996 first round pick (which the Knicks would use to draft Walter McCarty) and $1 million in cash to the Knicks on September 1, 1995. Riley's coaching of the Heat to playoff contention would later make them bitter rivals with his former team.

In 1995-1996, Miami was swept in the first round by Phil Jackson-coached Chicago Bulls, who were led by a rejuvenated Michael Jordan. This season was most notable for the ongoing housecleaning that took place, with the arrival of building blocks Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway. The offseason would also bring them Nets forward P.J. Brown and Suns swingman Dan Majerle.

In 1997, the 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, they proved no match for Jordan and his Bulls. Riley was selected as Coach of the Year for the third time, after leading Miami to a 61–21 regular season record, 1st in the Atlantic division.

The Heat would compile consecutive seasons over 0.600. However, the 1998, 1999, and 2000 playoffs would be disappointments as they lost to the arch-rival Knicks; the first two in the opening round and the latter in the second round.

Riley then entered the 2000 season armed for bear. In a shuffling of the deck, Riley traded away Brown and Jamal Mashburn in exchange for Eddie Jones in one trade and acquired Brian Grant in another, although suffering a major setback after discovering Alonzo Mourning's kidney condition. After finishing a respectable 50-32 in 2001 in spite of the new nucleus and the loss of their star center, the Heat organized a housecleaning after the season, as the Heat lost two of their best players when guard Tim Hardaway was traded to the Dallas Mavericks and Anthony Mason (basketball) signed with the Milwaukee Bucks. In part because of these departures, the Heat finished a disappointing 36-46 in 2002. Riley was so disgusted with the Heat's performance that he declared he was about to "fire himself."

Before the beginning of the 2003-2004 season, he did step down as Heat coach, to fully dedicate his attention to his duties as general manager. Longtime assistant Stan Van Gundy and rookie Dwyane Wade, whom Riley drafted 5th overall, led the Heat back into the playoffs with a 42–40 record after starting 0-7. Riley concentrated on improving the team even further before the 2004–2005 season. One of his biggest moves as full-time general manager was to trade Caron Butler, Brian Grant, Lamar Odom and a first-round draft pick to the Lakers for superstar Shaquille O'Neal. Head coach Van Gundy led the Heat to the Eastern Conference finals during the 2005 playoffs, although they lost to the Detroit Pistons after being up 3-2 in the series.

Riley resumed coaching the Heat on December 12, 2005, replacing Stan Van Gundy after the Heat started the season with a disappointing 11–10 record. Van Gundy had resigned in order to "spend more time with [his] family." Although Van Gundy maintained that his decision to resign was his own, there has been speculation that he was pushed out by Riley.

The move came as a shock to the basketball community, with some speculating that with Shaquille O'Neal returning from injury, Dwyane Wade having his best season yet, and a high-caliber roster including Gary Payton, Jason Williams and Antoine Walker, Riley wanted to try to regain his former glory by coaching Miami to its first NBA Championship. Riley's Heat team defeated his Los Angeles Lakers-days nemesis, the Detroit Pistons, in the 2006 Eastern Conference playoffs on June 2, 2006, making it the first time the Miami Heat reached the finals. Riley's Heat squared off against the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Championship. Despite losing the first two games to Dallas, the Heat rallied to win the final four games and their first NBA Championship. It was Riley's fifth championship as a head coach. He joined Alex Hannum and Phil Jackson as the only coaches to coach two different teams to NBA titles. He also became the only coach to twice replace a coach in mid-season and take that team to an NBA title.

Despite speculation of his possible retirement, on August 23, 2006 Riley announced that he would return as head coach of the Heat for at least one more season. His coaching record currently stands at 1,151–589.

On January 3, 2007 Riley announced that he would take an indefinite leave of absence from coaching due to ongoing "hip and knee problems". Assistant coach Ron Rothstein had assumed interim duties until Riley's return on February 19, 2007.

On April 29, 2007, the 5th-seeded Chicago Bulls completed a four-game sweep of the 4th-seeded Miami Heat (Chicago had the better record but Miami won its division championship).

On August 13, 2007 Riley announced that he would be returning for the next three seasons.


On April 28, 2008, Riley announced that he would step down as coach of the Miami Heat after the team finished with an NBA-worst 15-67 record, the worst regular season output of Riley's career. Former Heat assistant Erik Spoelstra was announced as his replacement. Riley will remain as team president, in charge of making personnel decisions, scouting, etc.

Outside of basketballEdit


Riley and the Miami Heat with President George W. Bush

Outside of 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-looking, and his immaculate tan. He came to the public eye leading the "Showtime" Lakers of the 1980s, furthering his image by "guaranteeing" a championship. It should also be noted that Riley has coached in three American cities well known for popular nightlife and celebrity culture. Riley is also known for his friendship with Giorgio Armani, preferring to wear Armani suits during basketball games, and even modeling once at an Armani show.

Riley is also a highly successful motivational speaker during the off-season. Riley earns in excess of $50,000 for each speaking engagement. Pat Riley's speaker profile

Riley and his wife Chris, have two children, James and Elisabeth Riley.

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."

Riley and his wife are huge Bruce Springsteen fans. At his 2008 induction into the NBA Hall of Fame, he ended his speech with a quote from the Springsteen song,BACK IN YOUR ARMS AGAIN.

College basketball statistics as a playerEdit

University of Kentucky
Season Games
Minutes FG FGA  % FT FTA  % Total
RPG Asst. APG F Total
1964-65 25 825 160 370 43.2 55 89 61.8 212 8.5 27 1.1 98 375 15.0
1965-66 29 1078 265 514 51.6 107 153 69.9 259 8.9 64 2.3 106 637 22.0
1966-67 26 953 165 373 44.2 122 156 78.2 201 7.7 68 2.6 90 452 17.4
Total 80 2856 590 1257 46.9 284 398 71.4 672 8.4 159 2.0 294 1464 18.3

NBA statistics as a player Edit

Regular Season Stats[1]
1967-68 22 San Diego Rockets 80 1263 628 7.9 250 660 .379 128 202 .634 0 0 .000 177 2.2 138 1.7 0 0 0
1968-69 23 San Diego Rockets 56 1027 494 8.8 202 498 .406 90 134 .672 0 0 .000 112 2.0 136 2.4 0 0 0
1969-70 24 San Diego Rockets 36 474 190 5.3 75 180 .417 40 55 .727 0 0 .000 57 1.6 85 2.4 0 0 0
1970-71 25 Los Angeles Lakers 54 506 266 4.9 105 254 .413 56 87 .644 0 0 .000 54 1.0 72 1.3 0 0 0
1971-72 26 Los Angeles Lakers 67 926 449 6.7 197 441 .447 55 74 .743 0 0 .000 127 1.9 75 1.1 0 0 0
1972-73 27 Los Angeles Lakers 55 801 399 7.3 167 390 .428 65 82 .793 0 0 .000 65 1.2 81 1.5 0 0 0
1973-74 28 Los Angeles Lakers 72 1361 684 9.5 287 667 .430 110 144 .764 0 0 .000 128 1.8 148 2.1 54 3 0
1974-75 29 Los Angeles Lakers 46 1016 507 11.0 219 523 .419 69 93 .742 0 0 .000 85 1.8 121 2.6 36 4 0
1975-76 NBA season 30 Phoenix Suns 62 813 289 4.7 117 301 .389 55 77 .714 0 0 .000 50 0.8 57 0.9 22 6 0
9 Season Totals 528 8187 3906 7.4 1619 3914 .414 668 948 .705 0 0 .000 855 1.6 913 1.7 112 13 0
Playoff Stats[1]
1968-69 San Diego Rockets 5 76 37 7.4 16 37 .432 5 6 .833 0 0 .000 11 2.2 2 0.4 0 0 0
1970-71 Los Angeles Lakers 7 135 66 9.4 29 69 .420 8 11 .727 0 0 .000 15 2.1 14 2.0 0 0 0
1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers 15 244 78 5.2 33 99 .333 12 16 .750 0 0 .000 29 1.9 14 0.9 0 0 0
1972-73 Los Angeles Lakers 7 53 18 2.6 9 27 .333 0 0 .000 0 0 .000 5 0.7 7 1.0 0 0 0
1973-74 Los Angeles Lakers 5 106 39 7.8 18 50 .360 3 4 .750 0 0 .000 6 1.2 10 2.0 0 0 0
1975-76 NBA season Phoenix Suns 5 27 13 2.6 6 15 .400 1 1 1.000 0 0 .000 0 0.0 5 1.0 0 0 0
Totals 44 641 251 5.7 111 297 .374 29 38 .763 0 0 .000 66 1.5 52 1.2 0 0 0

Coaching recordEdit

|- | align="left" |LAL | align="left" |1981–82 |71||50||21||.704|| align="center" |1st in Pacific||14||12||2 | align="center" |Won first season |- | align="left" |LAL | align="left" |1982–83 |82||58||24||.707|| align="center" |1st in Pacific||15||8||7 | align="center" |Lost in NBA Finals |- | align="left" |LAL | align="left" |1983–84 |82||54||28||.569|| align="center" |1st in Pacific||21||14||7 | align="center" |Lost in NBA Finals |- | align="left" |LAL | align="left" |1984–85 |82||62||20||.756|| align="center" |1st in Pacific||19||15||4 | align="center" |Won 1985 |- | align="left" |LAL | align="left" |1985–86 |82||62||20||.756|| align="center" |1st in Pacific||14||8||6 | align="center" |Lost in Conf. Finals |- | align="left" |LAL | align="left" |1986–87 |82||65||17||.793|| align="center" |1st in Pacific||18||15||3 | align="center" |Won dispatching the Celtics in six games |- | align="left" |LAL | align="left" |1987–88 |82||62||20||.756|| align="center" |1st in Pacific||25||15||9 | align="center" |Won 1988 NBA Finals |- | align="left" |LAL | align="left" |1988–89 |82||57||25||.695|| align="center" |1st in Pacific||15||11||4 | align="center" |Lost in NBA Finals |- | align="left" |LAL | align="left" |1989–90 |82||63||19||.768|| align="center" |1st in Pacific||9||4||5 | align="center" |Lost in Conf. Semifinals |- | align="left" |NYK | align="left" |1991–92 |82||51||31||.622|| align="center" |1st in Atlantic||12||6||6 | align="center" |Lost in Conf. Semifinals |- | align="left" |NYK | align="left" |1992–93 |82||60||22||.732|| align="center" |1st in Atlantic||15||9||6 | align="center" |Lost in Conf. Finals |- | align="left" |NYK | align="left" |1993–94 |82||57||25||.695|| align="center" |1st in Atlantic||25||14||11 | align="center" |Lost in NBA Finals |- | align="left" |NYK | align="left" |1994–95 |82||55||27||.671|| align="center" |2nd in Atlantic||11||6||5 | align="center" |Lost in Conf. Semifinals |- | align="left" |MIA | align="left" |1995–96 |82||42||40||.512|| align="center" |3rd in Atlantic||3||0||3 | align="center" |Lost in First Round |- | align="left" |MIA | align="left" |1996–97 |82||61||21||.744|| align="center" |1st in Atlantic||17||8||9 | align="center" |Lost in Conf. Finals |- | align="left" |MIA | align="left" |1997–98 |82||55||27||.671|| align="center" |1st in Atlantic||5||2||3 | align="center" |Lost in First Round |- | align="left" |MIA | align="left" |1998–99 |50||33||17||.660|| align="center" |1st in Atlantic||5||2||3 | align="center" |Lost in First Round |- | align="left" |MIA | align="left" |1999–00 |82||52||30||.634|| align="center" |1st in Atlantic||10||6||4 | align="center" |Lost in Conf. Semifinals |- | align="left" |MIA | align="left" |2000–01 |82||50||32||.610|| align="center" |2nd in Atlantic||3||0||3 | align="center" |Lost in First Round |- | align="left" |MIA | align="left" |2001–02 |82||36||46||.439|| align="center" |6th in Atlantic||—||—||— | align="center" |Missed Playoffs |- | align="left" |MIA | align="left" |2002–03 |82||25||57||.305|| align="center" |7th in Atlantic||—||—||— | align="center" |Missed Playoffs |- | align="left" |MIA | align="left" |2005–06 |61||41||20||.672|| align="center" |1st in Southeast||23||16||7 | align="center" |Won 2006 NBA Championship |- | align="left" |MIA | align="left" |2006–07 |82||44||38||.537|| align="center" |1st in Southeast||4||0||4 | align="center" |Lost in First Round |- | align="left" |MIA | align="left" |2007–08 |82||15||67||.183|| align="center" |5th in Southeast||—||—||— | align="center" |Missed Playoffs |- | align="left" |Career | ||1904||1210||694||.636|| ||282||171||111


External linksEdit

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