Try making a list of 10 greatest NBA coaches ever. Is Pat Riley on it? Good. You did it well.
The older generation will mostly remember him by winning four titles with the “Showtime” Lakers of the ’80s. At the end of the day, that’s when he gained the iconic status. Those who became NBA fans more recently will probably associate him with the Miami Heat and their championship in ’06.
Just a small reminder of his accolades; he’s won Coach of the Year award three times, and compiled a 1210-694 record, winning .636 of games. The only time Riley didn’t make the playoffs was in his last season with the Heat, as he ranks second in playoff wins with 171. So yeah, Riley is, without the doubt one of the best coaches ever. Every player who played for him will tell you the same.
Another thing they’ll tell you is this: Pat Riley gave the best locker room speeches ever. He had a way of motivating his guys like no other. Whether it was pre-game, half time, or post-game, players were ready to go to war for him. Riley always had a way of lifting them up when they were down.
Remember the ’06 Finals, when the Heat got back to Miami trailing 2-0 in the series? And remember them winning the next four games to win the championship? Sure, the players deserve most of the credit. But according to Shaq, Riley’s speech made them believe it was possible to pull off such an upset. Well, not a speech exactly.
He came in with a bucket full of ice, and he said, ‘Do you guys believe I can hold my head in this bucket of ice for three minutes?’ Most of the guys were like, ‘I don’t believe he can do it.’ And he did it. He almost died, but he did it. So the first thing you have to do is believe.Shaquille O’Neal
So Riley basically risked his life to send a message. That’s how involved he was. That’s how intense he was. It was the ultimate hype moment that left no one indifferent. It resulted in a historic comeback, as the Heat won the series in six, winning the organization’s first-ever championship.
However, it’s not the only Pat Riley and the ice bucket story. I guess he had a thing for ice buckets. Kinda weird, but it worked. The second story was shared by Eddie House. He wasn’t around when it happened, but it sure does sound like something Riley would do. And this one is even more epic.
He had phenomenal speeches—the best. You would want to run through the wall, head first. He’d give you something every game, but it depended on the type of game, how good it was gonna be. I wasn’t there for this, but the vets told me that one time, after a comeback against Detroit, he ducked his head in it and kept it there. He got it out and yelled ‘TO THE LAST SECOND!!’ and everybody goes crazy.Eddie House
Imagine your 60-ish-year-old coach doing something like that. No one is immune to that type of stuff. It’s the ultimate way of motivating your team. And that’s what Pat was – the ultimate motivator. He didn’t care what props he used. It was solely about sending a message. Ice buckets just happened to be near at hand more times than the other.