Pat Riley is known as one of the best coaches and executives in the history of the NBA, but many people may not realise that he was also a first-round pick in the NBA.
Who drafted Pat Riley? Pat Riley was drafted seventh overall in the 1967 NBA Draft by the San Diego Rockets, who were at the time coached by Jack McMahon. Riley had played college basketball for four seasons for the Kentucky Wildcats.
Before he became a brilliant coach and executive, Pat Riley was an exciting young shooting guard coming out of the University of Kentucky. He had defeated Kareem Abdul Jabbar in high school after his Linton High School defeated Jabbar’s Power Memorial 74-68 in an incredible victory.
Riley played four seasons at Kentucky, three of those with the varsity team. His junior season was excellent, with Riley being named SEC Player of the Year as well as being First-Team All-American. This promising college career led to him being one of the top prospects for the 1967 NBA draft.
In the draft, Clem Haskins was the first guard from a Kentucky college to be selected when he went third overall. Riley was selected four picks later by an expansion team the San Diego Rockets, who were added to the league after the NBA wanted to expand further in the Western United States market. This team would go on to become the Houston Rockets currently in the NBA.
Riley would go on to play three seasons with the Rockets but did not impress enough to be protected in the 1970 NBA expansion draft. He was selected by a new team, the Portland Trail Blazers but was immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.
While Riley made his name in basketball, he was also drafted by another team. Riley also played some football at the college level and it led to him being drafted in the 11th round of the 1967 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys. Drafted as a wide receiver, Riley would go down the much more lucrative option of playing in the NBA.
Did Pat Riley win an NBA championship as a player?
After being traded to the Lakers, Riley would play an important role as the Los Angeles Lakers won the 1972 NBA championship. Riley was part of a Lakers team containing NBA legends like Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West. While he was nowhere near as important as
West and Chamberlain, Riley still played a role in the Lakers championship victory.
Riley would continue to be a fine bench option for the Lakers, having his best season in the league in the 1974-75 season before being traded to the Phoenix Suns for the 1975 season.
After one season with the Suns, Riley would retire from the NBA in 1976 at the age of 30.
It meant that Riley retired without an NBA championship as a player, immediately going into coaching after retiring as a player.
How many championships did Pat Riley win as a coach?
Pat Riley has won five NBA championships as a head coach, winning another as an assistant. Four of those titles came as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, with one more coming as head coach of the Miami Heat.
Pat Riley’s first championship as a coach came in his first season as a head coach. Riley took over from Paul Westhead during the 1981-82 season after previous coach Paul Westhead had argued with star player Magic Johnson, causing Johnson to ask to be traded.
Lakers owner Jerry Buss sided with his star player and Westhead was fired. As one of his key assistants, Riley was named as the Lakers head coach. After taking over the Lakers at 7-4, Riley led the team to 57-25 in the regular season which was enough for the number one seed in the west.
The Lakers cruised through the first two rounds of the playoffs, sweeping the Suns and the Spurs in the first two rounds of the playoffs, which was enough for the Lakers to reach the Finals.
After winning the first game in Philadelphia, the Lakers would win game six after taking a 3-1 lead in the Finals. It was Riley’s first title as a head coach.
After losing in two straight finals, the Lakers once again finished as the top seed in the West, but this time they had to get through three playoff series. They did this with relative ease, sweeping the Suns in the first round before only losing one game in the Conference Semifinals and Finals.
In the finals, it was the familiar foe of the Boston Celtics and it was thought that they would struggle after losing the first game of the series. But the Lakers would win four of the next five games and win the title in Boston for the Lakers second title under Pat Riley.
Two years later, the Lakers had a brilliant regular season, finishing the season 65-17. Considered one of the best teams of all time, this Lakers team only lost three games in four rounds of the Playoffs, beating the Boston Celtics 4-2 in the finals as they had done so for Riley’s second title.
Pat Riley’s Last Championship as Lakers coach
The Lakers would once again be the top seed of the West in the 1987-88 season but had a tough time in the playoffs after sweeping the Spurs in the first round. In the second round, the Lakers went 2-1 down to the Utah Jazz but won a decisive game seven in Los Angeles.
In the conference finals, the Lakers won all four of their home games but lost all three of their road games. In the Finals, the Lakers went down 3-2 in the finals but won back-to-back games at home to win Riley’s last title with the Lakers.
Did Pat Riley win a title as coach of the Miami Heat
Pat Riley was head coach of the Miami Heat for eleven seasons and in that time he won a title with the Heat. After reinstating himself as head coach during the 2005-06 season, the Heat defeated the Dallas Mavericks 4-2 in the NBA Finals for the Heat’s first title and Riley’s fifth as a head coach.