Pat Riley has built up one of the most impressive NBA resumes ever.
As a player, Riley got his start in the NBA in 1967 with the San Diego Rockets and eventually went on to join the Los Angeles Lakers in 1970 where he was a part of their 1972 record setting 33 game winning streak the Lakers still hold today. Riley got his first and only championship ring as a player that season as well.
As an assistant coach he was instrumental in drafting Magic Johnson who helped Riley get his first championship ring as a coach. As a head coach Riley led the Lakers to seven conference championships (1982-1985, 1987-1989) and four NBA titles (1982, 1985, 1987-1988).
He then went on to the N.Y. Knicks where the Dolans promised him more executive power. There he led the team to one Conference Championship in 1994, but never won the NBA Finals. After never obtaining the executive power he wanted to bring in help for superstar center Pat Ewing, Riley resigned and departed to the Miami Heat in 1995.
In 1995 with more executive power than in N.Y., Riley was given the task of rebuilding a team wrecked by previous executive Lewis Schaffel who completed a partial fire sale of the team’s talent before Mickey Arison was granted full control over the organization. Riley’s goal was to bring the showtime style Lakers play to Miami. He took on several guys labeled as angry, selfish, disgruntled, or clubhouse cancers. The outcasts of Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, and Jamal Mashburn led his big three. He surrounded them with Dan Majerle, Voshon Lenard, P.J. Brown, and a spectacular supporting cast that went on to be known as the road warriors, because they held the best road record in the NBA. They walked onto your floor and nullified the believed “home court advantage.”
In Miami, Pat Riley led the Heat to the Eastern conference finals two times (1997 ,2006) and one NBA title (2006), Riley’s teams were known for getting physical and beating up their opponents in the paint and forcing turnovers to get out on the fast break. Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel would be the modern day version of Pat Riley. Vogel, like Riley, preaches defense and passing more than anything.
Riley was a mentor to coaches Stan Van Gundy, Jeff Van Gundy, and Erik Spoelstra. The Van Gundy brothers are especially known for having identical coaching styles as Riley while Spoelstra introduced his own style of “small ball” fast-paced basketball that breaks down opposing defenses, but is especially weak on the defensive end.
As a full time NBA executive, Riley was instrumental in signing LeBron James and Chris Bosh to join Dwyane Wade. Together they went to four straight NBA Finals with the Miami Heat from 2011 to 2014 and won titles in 2012 against the Oklahoma City Thunder and repeated as champions in 2013 against the San Antonio Spurs.
Riley won coach of the year three times in 1990, 1993, and 1997.
Phil got his start as a player with the New York Knicks in 1967. Phil was not a very good player, but he was a rough power forward known for hard fouls in the lane.
Jackson’s claim to fame came after he put an end to the Chicago Bulls hiring of new coaches every year. Phil came in and inherited the young duo of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. It took some time, but he taught them the triangle offense that ultimately helped them overcome the bad boys, the Detroit Pistons, and to gain control over the Eastern Conference. Jackson coached the Bulls to six NBA Titles (1991-1993, 1996-1998) Phil coached the Bulls to a franchise and NBA best record at 72-10 in 1995-96 and the NBAs 7th longest winning streak at 18 wins that same year. Altogether, Phil took the Bulls to 7 Conference finals, winning 6 of them. His lone Conference finals loss with the Bulls was his first appearance in 1990 against the Detroit Pistons.
In 1999, Phil moved out west to join the Los Angeles Lakers who landed the best center in the game, Shaquille O’Neal, and had a young upstart 19yr old named Kobe Bryant. With the duo of Shaq-Kobe, Phil coached the team to five NBA Titles (2000-2002, 2009-2010) and seven Conference Championships (2000-2002, 2004, 2008-2010).
Phil Jackson won only one coach of the year in 1996, but cemented his place as one of the best coaches in NBA History.