Riley will return to coach Heat

August 23rd, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Riley will return to coach Heat

MIAMI (AP) - Pat Riley will be coaching the Miami Heat when their NBA championship banner is raised.
Riley said Wednesday he'll return as coach for the 2006-07 season, ending speculation he might retire at age 61. He led the Heat to their first league title - and his seventh as a coach or player - in June.
"After winning the championship, I realized there's always something meaningful that happens in your life that becomes the primary point of your destiny," Riley said in a statement. "Winning the championship showed me that I am definitely in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. I can't wait to get started."
There have been no defections from the championship team's eight-man rotation, although free-agent guard Gary Payton remains unsigned.
"We've got most of our core guys back, and now we have the coach," said centre Alonzo Mourning, who re-signed last week. "I think it's only fitting that he comes back so we can all defend the title together."

Riley is second to Lenny Wilkens with 1,322 coaching victories, including 171 in the post-season. Riley, who is also Heat president, returned to the sideline last Dec. 12 when Stan Van Gundy resigned as coach for personal reasons.
The Heat said Riley was unavailable to the media. He last talked to reporters June 23, the day of the team's championship parade.
As recently as Monday, centre Shaquille O'Neal expressed concern about Riley's status.
"Yeah, it's an issue," O'Neal told at a charity golf event in the New York area sponsored by Mourning.
Under Riley, the Heat went 41-20 this past regular season, then beat Chicago, New Jersey, Detroit and Dallas in the playoffs.
"Coach made this championship happen. He built it and made us all believe," forward James Posey said this summer. "You could tell how much he wanted this one."
It was Riley's fifth NBA title as a head coach but his first since taking the Showtime-era Los Angeles Lakers to the 1988 title. He won one title as a player and another as an assistant coach.
"I'd give up six championships," a champagne-soaked Riley said in the din of the victory celebration in Dallas, "to get this one."
The title provided vindication for Riley, widely questioned after shaking up the roster a year ago and then returning as coach when Van Gundy resigned.
Riley found the season draining physically and emotionally. He postponed hip-replacement surgery to resume coaching and limped at times in the ensuing months. Early in the playoffs, his 96-year-old mother, Mary, died near his hometown of Schenectady, N.Y.
Almost from the moment Riley returned as coach, there was a question of whether he'd keep the job in 2006-07. He signed an extension announced Jan. 1, but the team never clarified whether it was related to his role as president, coach or a combination of the two.
Soon after the extension was announced, Riley said he "probably would not" be back as coach, only to issue a terse statement in mid-April vowing to return, quashing a rumour that he had already chosen Jim O'Brien as his successor.
When the title was won, Riley changed the answer again, saying only that he couldn't decide whether to continue.
"Don't ask me that," Riley said. "Please. ... I can't answer that right now."
Riley stepped down as Heat coach shortly before the 2003-04 season and was replaced by Van Gundy, who remains under contract with the organization.

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