The National Basketball Coaches Association picked Riley as this year’s recipient of the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award, which commemorates the former Detroit coach’s life in basketball and his “standard of integrity, competitive excellence and tireless promotion” of the game. Football betting lines
Pat Riley is the 5th person to receive the award, joining Tommy Heinsohn in 2009, Jack Ramsay and Tex Winter in 2010 and Lenny Wilkens in 2011.
“This isn’t an award,” Riley said. “This is something someone grants to you. I’m extremely honored that the coaches association would do this.”
Riley has been part of the NBA for more than 40 years, with 1,210 wins and 21 playoff appearances as a chief coach, a great deal of charitable undertakings in Miami, L.A. and New York.
“Well, for us as a team, he means a lot,” Heat forward LeBron James declared. “You know, he put together this team, and we just look at his resume. We take a look at his experience either as a player, as a coach or as an executive. He’s done some great things. … Any understanding that he gives you, he’s giving it due to experience. He knows all about it. He’s won at the highest level multiple times.”
The award comes with maybe additional importance this year, with so much attention on the 20th anniversary of the Dream Team – the team of NBA stars that went to the 1992 Olympic Games and won a gold medal, with Daly leading the way as the coach.
“I think the viewpoint was really clear what that team was and what that team was about,” Riley said. “He had unqualified self-confidence being around these kinds of players, incredible conviction challenged them in such a way that I don’t believe anyone else could have challenged them.”
Riley’s team has some challenges these days as well, naturally.
The Miami Heat are back in the Finals for the 2nd straight year – and in a touch of irony, Rick Carlisle, who coached the Dallas Mavericks to last year’s championship against Miami, is the president of the association. Carlisle was among the group that picked Riley as this year’s Daly award recipient.
“When it came to coaching, Chuck Daly always felt that Pat Riley was the best of the best,” Carlisle said. “Chuck was a great admirer of Pat’s uncompromising intensity, class and style.”
And style was one of the things Riley and Daly discussed frequently in the final months of Daly’s life.
Daly was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer early in 2009, and his condition rapidly diminished. He spent much of his last weeks and months around friends and family in South Florida – and Riley frequently made the hour-or-so drive north to see Daly and spend a little time with the person he spent so many years coaching against.
The Daly award marks lifetime achievement, but Riley hopes that his achievements keep coming, that his Miami Heat will deliver what would be the 8th NBA championship of his career as a player, assistant, head coach and executive.