42 Pat Riley

pat riley
Pat Riley
Hometown (Last School)
Schenectady, NY (Linton High)
1964-65, 1965-66, 1966-67
March 20, 1945

Pat Riley was born Patrick James Riley on March 20, 1945, in Rome, New York. He is the son of Mary Rosalia (Balloga) and Leon Riley, who played 22 seasons of minor league baseball as an outfielder and first baseman, and appeared in four games for the 1944 Philadelphia Phillies.

Riley was a top-drawer schoolboy All-America standout that was high on the wanted list of almost every major school in the country.  During an outstanding, three-year career at Schenectady’s Linton High, the sturdily-built Riley alternated between guard, center, and forward and scored an even 1,000 points.  In his final schoolboy season, he connected at a terrific, 29.5 points per game clip and went over 40 in each of the final four games.  Riley’s coveted 1,000-point total was four shy of the record set at the same school by Barry Kramer, NYU All-American who was the nation’s No. 2 point producer that season.  But Riley achieved his mark in 10 fewer games than it took Kramer to amass 1,004.  An all-around sports star, Riley also attained All-America recognition as a football quarterback (he passed up numerous grid offers) and played baseball and track.  He is the son of former minor league baseball manager Lee Riley, Sr., and a brother of New York Titans’ defensive halfback Lee, Jr.

After turning down an offer to play football for Bear Bryant at Alabama, Riley decided instead to play basketball for Adolph Rupp at Kentucky.  He chose Kentucky because “I always wanted to come to this school since I was a young kid.”  He remembered seeing and hearing about the great Kentucky teams that played in New York in the early fifties.  Riley played college basketball for four seasons for the Kentucky Wildcats—one on the freshman team and three on the varsity. 

Riley alternated between forward and center as a UK freshman to score at 20.8 points per game clip. He also led the frosh in rebounding, snagging 14.7 per game.  He grabbed a season-high 30 rebounds in one game.  He scored in double figures every time out to continue his high school record of 34 straight “doubles.”

As a sophomore, Riley doubled on all except four occasions and was UK’s No. 2 score and 10th scorer in the SEC scorer (375-15.0), and third in UK rebounding (212-8.5) as a starting forward all 25 games.

As a junior, Riley was named First Team All-SEC, All-NCAA Tournament Team, NCAA Regional Player of the Year, SEC Player of the Year, and AP Third Team All-American, leading the Wildcats to the 1966 NCAA title game. Coached by Adolph Rupp, UK lost to Texas Western (today’s UTEP), a game that was reenacted in the movie Glory Road.

In his senior year, Riley made First Team All-SEC, becoming one of the few players in storied Kentucky basketball history to be named First Team All-SEC twice.

Riley was drafted by the San Diego Rockets with the 7th overall pick in the 1967 NBA draft. He played for the Rockets for four seasons, and he was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team in 1967–68. Riley then played for the Los Angeles Lakers for two seasons, and he won an NBA championship with the Lakers in 1972.

After playing, Riley began coaching as an assistant coach with the Lakers in 1973. He was named head coach of the Lakers in 1981, and he led the team to four NBA championships in the 1980s. Riley then coached the New York Knicks from 1991 to 1995, and he led the team to an NBA championship in 1994.

Riley returned to the Miami Heat in 1995, and he has led the team to three NBA championships in 2006, 2012, and 2013. He is one of only three coaches in NBA history to win titles with two different teams.

Riley is a nine-time NBA champion across his tenures as a player (1972), assistant coach (1980), head coach (1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2006), and executive (2012, 2013). Since the start of his career in the NBA, Riley has appeared in 25 percent of all NBA Finals in history over his span as a player, coach, and executive.

Riley is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and he is considered one of the greatest coaches in NBA history. He is known for his fiery personality and his ability to motivate his players. Riley is also a successful businessman, and he has worked as a television analyst and motivational speaker.

Riley has been married to the former Christine Rodstrom since June 26, 1970. In 1985, the Rileys adopted a son, James Patrick.  In 1989, they adopted a daughter, Elisabeth.  He is a resident of Miami, Florida.