Stylish Pat Riley, the impeccably dressed director of Showtime the last nine years, has decided to take his act elsewhere, probably to the tube.
Mike Dunleavy, Riley's successor with the Los Angeles Lakers, will have a tough act to follow, both as a head coach and fashion plate.Riley, who coached the Lakers to four NBA championships since taking over the team early in the 1981-82 season, had tears in his eyes as he bowed out of his job Monday at a news conference.
"It's just time for me at age 45 to move on," he said. "There are other things to do. There isn't anything specific I can say right now. I had a choice to make, a decision to make, as a person."
Accompanied by his wife, Chris, who also teared up, Riley said he was neither "fed up" nor "burned out" - just ready for a change.
"The last 10 years have been the greatest experience of my life," he said. "It was a wonderful decade of memorable experiences I've had. Basketball has been my life. I've been 20 years in this game.
"There are other things I want to do in my life. I don't want to be an old timer before I do them."
Riley, who still has two years left on his contract, is reportedly in line for a broadcasting job with NBC, which becomes the NBA's prime network next season. His decision to leave the Lakers confirmed rumors which circulated for several weeks.
Dunleavy, 36, an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks the last three seasons, becomes the second-youngest head coach in the NBA.
Coincidentally, Riley was 36 when the Lakers hired him as head coach on Nov. 19, 1981, to succeed the fired Paul Westhead.
Riley guided the Lakers to an NBA-best 63-19 record this season and was named NBA Coach of the Year for the first time in his career. But Los Angeles was eliminated by Phoenix in five games in the Western Conference semifinals - the first time the Lakers didn't reach the conference finals since 1981, their final season under Westhead.
Under Riley, the Lakers went 533-194, a .733 winning percentage.
They also went 102-47 in playoff games, the most playoff wins by one coach in NBA history.
"Pat was much more than a coach to me," said guard Magic Johnson. "He has been my friend and an inspiration. When I was down, he was able to pick me up and help make me the best basketball player and person that I could be."
"It was a challenge, particularly the dressing part of it," Pistons coach Chuck Daly said of coaching against Riley. "He was a superb dresser. . . . He was a superb coach.