Make the ride in the Mercedes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Let me begin by making it clear that I am by no means a fan of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

I don’t consider most of what I’ve seen over the last several years basketball. As best I can tell, it’s pretty much the person with the ball shoots and most of the rest of the team pouts because they didn’t get to shoot.

Sure, this isn’t entirely true. Larry Brown’s teams play defense. They have to or they don’t play. That, I believe, is a large part of the reason Larry Brown is not going to coach the Detroit Pistons next year.

Our own local guy, Nate McMillan, is a pretty stringent coach when it comes to defense. It nearly cost him his job, but thanks to the success it registered he secured a nice job with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Okay, off my soapbox and onto the topic at hand.

I want Pat Riley back on the sidelines of the Miami Heat.

Sure, Stan Van Gundy is good guy and he has had reasonable success during his stint with the Heat, but he’s not the person to lead them to the NBA championship.

What the team needs is the style and charisma. They need experience and a guy who knows how to handle star power.

They need Pat Riley.

Van Gundy is okay. Just like the guy – Jeff – who shares his name. He’s an adequate coach that can get you from point A to point B. If you’re driving from one area to the next, however, why would you take an ’84 Chevette when you have the ability to drive a Mercedes?

Maybe both will get you there in the end, but which one will give you the better ride?

In this case, Riley in the Mercedes of professional basketball coaches. With the possible, and I do mean possible, exception of Phil Jackson, there is no one who has handled star power as well as Riley.

While Van Gundy is busy wiping sweat from his brow just before tip-off, Riley is the one waving to the fans and enjoying the spotlight. He is as much a celebrity as most of his players.

True… there is only one Shaq, but there is also only one Pat Riley.

During the years I actually followed the NBA, I was never a fan of the Hornets or the Wizards or the Bulls. I was a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat. There was one reason for those loyalties: Pat Riley.

I still have called myself a fan of the Heat over the past few years. But, it hasn’t been the same. Being a fan of the Heat because of the team president is not as much fun as being the fan of a coach.

The internet rumors today said Riley had decided not to take over the coaching job. I hope he changes his mind.

If not, maybe he will be back by midseason.

Questions? Comments? Snide remarks? All are welcome. You can reach me at or call me at 332-7211.

Be careful out there and be good sports.