Don't Bet on Pat Riley Coaching Lakers Next Year

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

When a team is a champion, its history is but a backdrop to its current achievements. When a team is a loser, its history is a source of nostalgia. That is why rumors are sprouting faster than Hollywood gossip that the Lakers may look to get Pat Riley to come back as a coach. But if you live in LA, you might consider hopping on I-15 North, driving five hours to Vegas, and betting the farm that it won't happen. There's just no reason for Riley to give up the security of a 10% ownership stake that vests next year for the stress, travel, scrutiny, and crapshoot that is coaching the Lakers.

Reports are that Riley will be granted a 10% ownership stake in the Heat franchise if he just sticks around for one more year. Why would he give that up?

Forget Showtime. This is Show-Me-The-Money-Time.

Riley has put his heart and soul into building the Heat into a competitive franchise. While it's usually a tautology to say that a team is one player away from a championship (David Stern likes to say that usually that player is Shaquille O'Neal and he's not available), in Miami's case it's absolutely true. One solid center and the Heat have one of the best teams in the league.

Furthermore, there are always rumors that the franchise itself could be for sale. Recent sales prices for franchises have been between $300 million and $400 million. Those are not difficult numbers to multiply by one-tenth.

You think the Lakers are going to guarantee Riley that much money? I wouldn't bet on it.

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You can also look up your seats with the Heat's new interactive seat finder. The link is off of their home page at


Helene St. James ofKnight Ridder Newspapers writes inThe San Jose Mercury News:But that brings up another problem for Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak - whom does he bring in as a replacement? Miami Heat president Pat Riley, who coached the Lakers in 1981-1990, would be an attractive candidate, but he needs to stay another year with Miami to get 10-percent equity of the team.

William Rhoden ofThe New York Times writes: Where will Jackson land? Tibet? He won’t return to Los Angeles, and one bizarre prediction has Pat Riley, now the Miami Heat’s president, returning to coach the Lakers.

Ron Borges ofNBCSports.comwrites: Already there are rumblings that Buss may try to lure Pat Riley back to the bench.As you probably know, Riley was the inventor of the Lakers' "Showtime" when they ran off four titles in the 1980s with Magic Johnson in charge of the basketball... The idea of trying to bring Pat Riley back to sort out the mess that is now the Los Angeles Lakers makes about as much sense as bringing Red Auerbach back to the bench to fix the fallen Boston Celtics. Both were great coaches, but their time has passed. Auerbach long ago conceded as much and has been in the background for years. Riley has coached on with decreasing success since leaving the Lakers' bench until he finally reached the point of simply removing himself from the sidelines.

Greg Stoda ofThe Palm Beach Postwrites: Riley says no, no, no, a thousand times no to coaching anywhere ever again and he says it in a thousand different ways.He has said it since he resigned as Heat coach four days before the start of the NBA season that just ended with the crash of the Lakers under Jackson against Detroit. Riley has said he was "desperate" to get out and isn't driven to get back in and feels "no angst" about having retreated to live the front-office life. Riley's a terrific talker. When you listen to him address a small group or engage in one-on-one conversation, it's abundantly clear why he draws huge paydays for motivational speeches. But on the subject of leaving the coach's seat for good? Mostly, he always sounds to me as though he's trying to convince himself it's the right and best thing to do. Now, however, the L.A. door that opened for Riley in the earliest stages of the 1981-82 season might soon open again. If it does, Riley should walk through it.

Michael Ventre ofNBCSports.comwrites: In the East, it seems the only two challengers to the Pistons are the usual suspects, the Indiana Pacers and New Jersey Nets. Neither of these teams will overtake Detroit without a major roster addition. I love what the Miami Heat accomplished this year, but they’re not there yet.Neither are the New Orleans Hornets, although Byron Scott will make them much better.

Barry Jackson ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: Are people in sports more likely to make offensive comments than others? Or is it simply that reporters are there to witness their insensitive comments? "It's a combination of both," said Villanova assistant coach and former Miami Heat broadcaster Ed Pinckney, who retired from the NBA in 1996 after a 12-year career.