Despite the intense criticism that has been directed his way, at different times during his illustrious NBA coaching career, there has always been a specific reason this observer has developed an appreciation for what Pat Riley stands for as a basketball coach and a man … perhaps, embodied best in these words,
Call to Hall humbles Riley
”I look at it this way: I don’t belong there. I really believe in the coaching profession and what the word coach means, and the gentlemen that are in — all the gentlemen that are in that Hall of Fame as coaches — [I know] why they are deserving, and why I don’t belong, but why I’m there.
I never coached a [Catholic Youth Organization] team. I never hauled a group of wannabes in the back of a truck to Central Park and worked them out from dawn to dusk. I never took a kid home in my car and treated his athlete’s [foot] in my house when I was in high school. I never did the 8 million hours of work that a student-manager/assistant coach did. I never did any of that stuff.
I was pushed through a door and a silver spoon was shoved in my mouth, that had Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] and Magic [Johnson] and [James] Worthy and [Bob] McAdoo and [Byron] Scott and [Michael] Cooper and [Norm] Nixon. I mean, that’s how I got my start. And most of the guys that are in [the Hall] did it the other way. So that’s how I look at it.
But I think over the 25 years, as a pro coach — it’s a lot different than as a college coach — maybe I’ve earned my way into that. But I have a different perspective about the whole thing.”
As the old Smith Barney’s use to say …
Yes, sir, Mr. Riley, after 24 years … you’ve earned it.