Miami Heat president Pat Riley has a long history with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Riley served as an assistant coach for three seasons in Los Angeles before being promoted to the head job — which he held from 1981-90, leading the team to four NBA championships. The Hall-of-Famer played for the Lakers from 1970-75, too.
Naturally, after Magic Johnson abruptly stepped down as the Lakers’ president of basketball operations this week, Riley has been linked to the head job in Los Angeles.
While he said he spoke with Johnson after the surprise decision, Riley said he has no interest in returning to the West Coast.
He wants to finish his career in Miami.
“I mean, I’m not going to comment on another team’s misfortune while they’re going through some adversity right now,” Riley said on Saturday, via The Athletic. “There’s no doubt that I have a history with that team. I was there for 20 years and I have a lot of friends still in the organization. I had a good conversation with Magic after he stepped down and I’m sure they’ll work it out. I’m not going to be part of that. That’s not what I want to do.”
Even though Riley has a lengthy history with the Lakers, he has a similar history in Miami.
Riley coached the Heat from 1995-2003, and then again from 2005-08. Riley was named the team president in 1995, too, and has led the team to three championships — once as a coach in 2003 and twice in the front office in 2012 and 2013.
With that level of success, there isn’t much of a reason for the 73-year-old to make the switch to Los Angeles at this point — especially with the state of the Lakers’ organization.
Bringing the Heat back
After reaffirming his commitment to Miami, Riley said his focus is now on bringing the Heat back to the championship level they were once at.
Miami finished this season with a 39-43 record and missed the postseason for the third time in the past five years — something Riley isn’t happy with.
“So very, very disappointed,” Riley said, via The Athletic “I’m disappointed in myself, obviously. This has not come together the way that I thought it would. I thought this year for sure in my mind that we would be in the top half of the Eastern Conference. Fourth, fifth, that would be a step forward. And we were close, but it doesn’t get you anything but a win in bocce ball or horseshoes.”
While he said it took some time to recover after bringing in LeBron James and Chris Bosh to join Dwyane Wade and form the “Big Three” — a move he said he’d do again — Riley said he still believes the Heat are an attractive landing spot for players in the league.
He feels the team is “at the launching pad” now, and can still bring in the pieces needed to succeed in South Beach in the near future.
“I think it’s indicative of a nice, little core of young players that will be good on the eyes of some possible free agents who want to come here,” Riley said, via the Miami Herald. “That’s all a part of being an attractive place. It isn’t just a quick trip to South Beach and going over to Ocean Drive. The weather and the state taxes are great but they want to come to an organization that has a chance to win and I believe we have proven that in the 23 years that I’ve been here.”
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