The Winner Within
Pat Riley is one of the brightest figures to ever coach in the NBA. He understands the psychology of teamwork and personal excellence and is a master at creating organizations whose achievements are greater than the sum of their parts. His speech shows business people how to put those principles to use. He gives audiences a vision of how to go above and beyond. He shows how to ride with the cycles of team change and make the most of every opportunity. Riley also cites ways for them to draw out their natural leadership abilities and further shows how one person can make a difference for an entire team.
Miami HEAT President & Head Coach Pat Riley has established a standard of excellence within the franchise, both on and off the court, that has allowed the team to reach unprecedented heights and has positioned it as one of the most successful in the NBA.
Riley’s resume is filled with many milestones during an NBA career that spans 38 years as a player, assistant coach, head coach, administrator and broadcaster and has produced seven NBA championships. He has compiled a 1,151-589 (.661) all-time record guiding the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and the Miami HEAT during a 22-year head coaching career that is one of the most impressive in all of sports. His 1,151 regular season victories trail only Lenny Wilkens and Don Nelson on the NBA’s all-time list. His 171 postseason victories rank second in NBA history, just seven behind Phil Jackson. His 278 postseason games coached rank first all-time in the league. His five NBA championships as a head coach tie him with John Kundla for the third highest total in NBA history. Riley has averaged over 52 wins per season in his coaching career. His .661 winning percentage in regular season play and 1,740 games coached both rank sixth all-time in the NBA and his .615 postseason winning percentage ranks ninth all-time in the league annuals. 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. Simply put, Riley is a winner.
No matter the odds, “getting the job done” has never been a problem for a person who has seen winning from all angles. As a youthful role player for the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, Riley earned the first of his seven NBA championship rings. He claimed another as an assistant under Lakers coach Paul Westhead in 1979-80. The New York native collected four more titles for the Lakers as the team’s top man in 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988. Eighteen years later, he guided the 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. His teams have advanced to the NBA Finals nine times and the Conference Finals on 12 occasions. As a head coach, he has captured 17 divisional championships, nine conference championships and five NBA titles. He has been honored as the NBA Coach of the Year on three occasions, the only coach in NBA history to receive the award with three different teams. Riley has also captured NBA Coach of the Month honors a league-record 10 times. His 20 total postseason appearances as a head coach are tops in league history, one more than Hall of Fame coach Red Auerbach and his string of 19 consecutive postseason appearances as a head coach from 1982-2001 set a league record for consecutive postseason appearances. Riley has also served as a head coach in nine NBA All-Star games.
In his illustrious career, Riley has guided his teams to at least 50 wins in a season an NBA-record 17 times, four more than the closest coach in league history. He also has registered an NBA-record seven 60-win seasons, accomplishing the milestone with each of the three franchises he guided. When he began the 2000-01 season with an Opening Night victory over intrastate rival Orlando on November 1, he became the fastest coach or manager to reach 1,000 wins in the history of the four professional sports in North America. Not only did Riley break the record, he smashed the mark previously held by Fred Clarke of the Pittsburgh Pirates, bettering it by an astonishing 144 games. Riley recorded his 1,000th victory in just his 1,434th game. On Mar. 11, 2003 with a 77-75 victory in Cleveland, he became the only head coach in NBA history to record at least 350 victories with two different franchises. Riley currently stands as the all-time leader in both regular season and postseason victories for both the Lakers and the HEAT.
With all the big moves Riley has made to shape the Heat, the most important trade he was involved with might very well have been the one that delivered him to Miami. Looking to change the face of an organization in its infancy, and become a solid contender year after year, HEAT Managing General Partner Micky Arison agreed to send a first-round draft pick and $1 million dollars to the New York Knicks on September 1, 1995 for the rights to Pat Riley. One day later, Riley was named the team’s fourth head coach and team president. From that point, the face of the organization changed. Riley brought with him star power, a proven track record, professionalism and results. Since he arrived in 1995, the HEAT has compiled a 507-363 (.583) record, the sixth best mark in the NBA over that 11-year span and the third best in the Eastern Conference. Miami has made nine postseason appearances since his arrival and its six division titles in the last 10 seasons are tied with San Antonio for the most in the NBA. With him came a winning culture that was lacking and now the HEAT is recognized as one of the hardest working, most respected organizations throughout the NBA.
Before joining the HEAT, Riley spent four successful seasons as the head coach of the New York Knicks. Prior to Riley’s arrival the Knicks had posted just four winning seasons in the previous 10 years (1981-91). During his four-year stint in New York, Riley guided the Knicks to four straight winning seasons, four consecutive playoff berths and compiled a 223-105 record. His .680 winning percentage is the best in Knicks history, easily outdistancing former assistant Jeff Van Gundy who ranks second (.590), and his 223 victories rank fourth on the club’s all-time list. He recorded at least 50 wins in each of his four seasons in New York, the only time in Knicks history the team posted at least 50 wins in four consecutive years. The highlight of his career with the Knicks was leading them to the 1994 NBA Finals, New York’s first trip to the Finals since the 1972-73 season. Riley’s teams won three consecutive Atlantic Division titles in his first three years (1991-94) in New York, and his tireless dedication earned him his second NBA Coach of the Year honor in 1993. In his first year with the Knicks they improved by 12 victories over the previous season (from 39 to 51).
Prior to leading the Knicks, Riley was head coach of the Lakers for nine years and guided the team to four NBA titles and three other NBA Finals appearances during its glory years. After taking over for Paul Westhead 11 games into the 1981-82 season, he led the Lakers to the NBA Championship. Under Riley, the Lakers became the first team to win 60 games in four consecutive NBA seasons (1984-85 through 1987-88). He won the Pacific Division title in each of his nine years leading the Lakers and was honored as the 1990 NBA Coach of the Year. He compiled a 533-194 (.733) regular season record in his nine seasons in L.A. and won at least 50 games in each of the nine years. Riley, who averaged 59 regular season wins a season in L.A., brought “Showtime” to the Great Western Forum. Under Riley the Lakers recorded a 305-59 (.838) regular season mark at home. His teams also compiled a 102-47 (.685) postseason record. Both the 533 regular season wins and the 102 postseason victories rank first on the Lakers all-time list.
Along with his wife, Chris, Riley has been involved with numerous charity and community service projects throughout his career. They founded The Miami HEAT Family Outreach in 1997 which has raised over $5 million for the South Florida community and whose beneficiaries include Jackson Memorial Foundation’s Guardian Angels which supports the Holtz Center for seriously ill children, and SafeSpace which is a domestic violence shelter for women and their children. They are also involved in the Pediatric AIDS Foundation’s Kids for Kids organization which they started in 1992 in New York, and the YMCA in Los Angeles, New York, and Miami. For over 30 years the Riley’s have been actively involved with Boys and Girls Clubs of America. As a result of his efforts, Riley has received many prestigious awards, including the Miami Project Sports Legend Award in 1992, Boys and Girls Clubs Miami Person of the Year Award in 1998, and was honored by the YMCA Miami in 1998.
Riley is not only one of professional basketball’s winningest coaches, but his speeches before hundreds of corporations have earned him the title of “America’s Greatest Motivational Speaker.” He has been rated by Success Magazine as “The best in his field.” Riley has also completed an award winning 30-minute motivational video entitled “Teamwork” in which he applies his winning philosophies to business and life in general. In addition to being one of the most sought after motivational speakers in the country, Riley has authored two books, “Show Time” and “The Winner Within”. Pat and his wife, Chris, have two children, James Patrick, and Elisabeth Marie.