Although best known for coaching four NBA
champions, including the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s and the Miami Heat in 2006, Riley
also was a respected player both under legendary coach Adolph Rupp at the University of Kentucky
and then in the NBA with the San Diego Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns, as a scrappy swingman.
...In addition, Riley was selected in the 11th round of the 1987 National Football League draft as a wide receiver by the Dallas Cowboys but did not pursue a career in the NFL.
Outside of basketball, Riley
is known for his
motivational speaking, as well as several books he
has authored, including "The Winner Within," a leadership guide that equates his
success in sports to similar possibilities in the business world. Riley
also has been connected to several Hollywood motion pictures.He was an advisor on the movie "Glory Road", the story of the first all-black starting five to win an NCAA college basketball Division I championship.
The Texas Southern team that won, beat Riley's Kentucky Wildcats in the 1966 title game.Riley's success on the basketball court positioned him for induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame
in Springfield, Massachusetts in September 2007.That success also led Riley
to trademark the phrase "three-peat" based on his
bid to win three consecutive NBA championships.The effort ended in an NBA Finals loss to the Detroit Pistons in 1989, after winning the 1987 Finals with the Los Angeles Lakers
against the Boston Celtics and the 1988 NBA Finals with the Lakers against the Pistons.Riley
later went on to coach the New York Knickerbockers from 1991 to 1995, advancing to the 1994 NBA Finals before losing to Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets.
...Later, during the 1995 offseason, Riley faxed in his resignation to Madison Square Garden and shortly thereafter agreed to work with Carnival Corp. chairman Micky Arison as coach and team president of the Miami Heat.
Riley's arrival helped trigger the political impetus for the Heat's move from Miami Arena to AmericanAirlines Arena.During the process, the Heat was offered the opportunity to play in the Sunrise, Florida, arena that later would become home of the National Hockey League Florida Panthers.Riley
did not move to South Florida to coach in Broward County.Among the notable players Riley
has coached during his two-plus decades on the sidelines have been Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Byron Scott, James Worthy, Michael Cooper, Bob McAdoo, Patrick Ewing, John Starks, Anthony Mason, Charles Oakley, Tim Hardaway, Alonzo Mourning, Dan Majerle, Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade.