Hardcourt Correspondent, White Cover Magazine
For people like me, Pat Riley has always just existed.
He’s like Jesus. There’s evidence of him being born and playing college ball, but then the story just fast forwarded to when he was a championship coach and team president, and we’re just supposed to take it all at face value and not ask questions.
Of course, that metaphor was a little muddied. Jesus’s existence is questionable, while Riley’s is not. Neither is his character or his pedigree. Riley was a superstar at the University of Kentucky, although his tenure there ended with a now-legendary NCAA final loss to Texas Western. The game has now been immortalized by the terminally underrated film Glory Road.
Riley did win an NBA Championship with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he’s far more popular for what he did later on with the Lakers.
Taking over the head coaching position in L.A. in 1981. In the next nine years (ending in 1990), Riley won four NBA Championships with the Lake Show and also rode the wave of Magic, Kareem, and Worthy to invent the Show Time Lakers and permanently instill the epic Celtics/L.A. rivalry that we all now live for.
With the Heat, Riley again won a championship as head coach in 2006. And then, he won another as team president in 2012.
He owns and then sells homes that look like this and, hey, he still has a phenomenally cool head of hair.
Pat Riley has essentially been there for as long as basketball has. When he entered the league as a player in 1967, the NBA was all but a fringe pastime enjoyed by a few Supa’Fly people on faux lather couches. Now, it’s another billion-dollar sports franchise.
Riley is as important to the game as anyone in its history.
Good thing we still get to enjoy him.