There are plenty of former NBA players who make the leap to a head coaching position. Yet success as a player is no indication of success as a coach. Isiah Thomas, Kurt Rambis, and Wes Unseld all basically flopped as coaches, whereas less talented players like Phil Jackson and Steve Kerr have put together top-notch coaching records.
An even smaller number of players-turned-coaches go on to succeed at the front office level. Perhaps the best example of such success is the current Miami Heat team president Pat Riley. After an underwhelming playing career, Riley put together highly accomplished stints as both a coach and a front office executive. Here we look back at those successes, while also investigating how much Riley is worth now.
Pat Riley as a NBA coach
After his nine-year playing career wrapped up following the 1975-1976 season, Riley took a broadcasting position with the Los Angeles Lakers. Then, in the 1979-1980 season, Riley accepted a position as an assistant coach for the Lakers. He would hold that position for three seasons before taking over as head coach partway into the 1981-1982 season.
Riley soon became a central part of the Lakers’ famed “Showtime” era, as led by superstars Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Riley coached the Lakers to a championship victory in his first season — then three more titles over the following six years. Those Lakers squads are rightly regarded as some of the best of all-time.
Riley stepped down as head coach following the 1989-1990 season, when the Lakers lost to the Phoenix Suns during the playoffs. He returned to broadcasting for one year, before taking over as the coach of the New York Knicks. Riley spent four years in New York, but the Patrick Ewing-led Knicks just couldn’t manage to overcome Michael Jordan’s Bulls.
In 1995, Riley decamped for Miami to take over as their new head coach — a position he held, off and on, for the next 11 years. During the 2005-2006 season, Riley successfully coached the Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal-led Heat to an NBA title.
Front office executive
Pat Riley’s career as a front office executive began in 1995 — the same year he took over as the coach of the Heat. By holding both positions concurrently, Riley assumed near-complete control over the team’s basketball operations. Since then, Riley has earned a reputation as one of the savviest front-office executives of all time.
Riley has proven especially adept when it comes to making high profile trades. One of the first things he did after taking over in 1995 was trade to acquire center Alonzo Mourning from the Charlotte Hornets.
Later moves involved getting Shaquille O’Neal from the Lakers, and getting LeBron James from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Both of those acquisitions ultimately netted the Heat three championships.
Perhaps Riley’s greatest move was drafting Dwyane Wade, who of course would go on to become a franchise superstar. Riley’s foresight about Wade’s potential was a crucial move in building the teams that would lead the Heat to their numerous titles over the ensuing years.
Pat Riley’s net worth today
Both as a coach and a front office executive, Riley is known for his no-nonsense attitude. He expects only the best from those around him, and will not hesitate to let players and coaches know if they fail to live up to expectations. While difficult at times, that attitude has earned him massive amounts of respect around the league.
Not surprisingly, Riley has accumulated a significant amount of wealth over his decades in the NBA. Simply put, a coach and executive with as successful a track record as Riley always earns a hefty paycheck. As a result, Riley’s net worth is currently estimated at $90 million. Should he choose to retire at some point in the next few years, Riley won’t have any problem living out his life in absolute comfort.