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Pat Riley

From Basketball Player To Coach

After retiring as a player, Riley worked as a television broadcaster for the Lakers beginning in 1977. He stayed in this post until 1979. At the start of the 1979-80 season, Riley accepted an offer from Paul Westhead, the head coach of the Lakers to become his assistant coach.

Riley took over as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers early in the 1981-82 season. In his very first season in the top coaching position, the Lakers won the NBA Championship. During the nine years Riley was head coach for the Lakers, the team won four NBA titles in seven NBA Finals appearances. Riley also led the Lakers to 60 wins four seasons in a row (1984-85 through the 1987-88 season). Under Riley, the Lakers won every division title, and won 50 or more games in each of the nine seasons Riley led them. The Lakers' win-loss record under Riley was 533-194. In 1990, Riley earned the first of his Coach of the Year awards. He told the Washington Post's Anthony Cotton after winning the award, "I don't want to belittle the award—it does mean something—but I think I became a good coach when I stopped worrying about things like recognition."


1945 Born in Schenectady, New York
1963 Graduates from high school, attends University of Kentucky
1967 Graduates from University of Kentucky
1967 Becomes basketball player with the San Diego Rockets
1970 Becomes a player for the Los Angeles Lakers
1975 Becomes a player for the Phoenix Suns
1977 Becomes a TV broadcaster for the Lakers
1979 Becomes assistant coach for the Lakers
1981 Becomes head coach for the Lakers
1990 Earns Coach of the Year Award
1990 Leaves the Lakers to become co-host of NBC show NBA Showtime
1991 Becomes head coach for the New York Knicks
1993 Earns NBA Coach of the Year award
1995 Becomes head coach for the Miami Heat
1996 Earns NBA Coach of the Year award
1997 Earns NBA Coach of the Month award
2001 Passes 1,000-win mark

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsBasketballPat Riley Biography - A Family Of Athletes, From Basketball Player To Coach, Chronology, A Winning Philosophy, Active Beyond Baseball