Hall of Fame or Bust: Pat Riley Among Finalists
by Jennifer Jordan
The knowledge, the composure, the hair gel, it can all only mean one thing: Pat Riley. A name known to every basketball fan under the sun, Pat Riley is one of the most famous coaches of all time. Presently head coach of the Miami Heat, and President of the organization, he just may be taking his act to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
During the 2008 NBA All Star weekend in New Orleans, a group of fifteen Hall of Fame finalists were named. Among them, the Heat’s very own Pat Riley. Former star of the New York Knicks, Patrick Ewing, former star of the Houston Rockets, Hakeem Olajuwon, and former star of the Golden State Warriors, Chris Mullin, were also named as finalists.
On Monday, April 7, the finalists will learn if they’ve been accepted: the 2008 Hall of Fame class is scheduled to be announced right before the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Championship. In order to be named to the class, finalists need to receive at least 18 out of 24 votes by members of the Honors Committee.
Beginning his NBA career as a player on the San Diego Rockets, Pat Riley found himself on the bench more than he was on the court. After a unremarkable stint as a professional basketball player, the bench proved to be where he belonged: he made a much better coach than a participant.
In the late 1970’s, Riley became an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers. During the 1981 season, he took over as head coach. Suddenly, a coaching legend was born. After the Lakers, he went on to coach the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat.
Behind Lenny Wilkins and Don Nelson, Pat Riley is the third winningest coach in NBA history. He maintains a .643 regular season winning percentage and a .606 playoff winning percentage. With seven NBA championships under his belt – five as a head coach, one as an assistant, and one as a player – he seems like a lock for the Hall.
Among his other accomplishments, Riley was named one of the Top Ten Coaches of All-Time, and he is the only coach on record to be named NBA Coach of the Year with three different organizations. He has also been head coach for nine All-Star games, and holds the records for Coach of the Month honors as well as consecutive post season appearances.
A stellar 17 times, Pat Riley has led his teams to 50 plus win seasons; seven of those seasons were 60 plus. He has won over 400 games with two separate franchises, remaining as the only NBA coach to ever accomplish this feat.
With all this, you don’t have to be a Miami Heat fan to know that the Hall of Fame would be lucky to have him.