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NBA FINALS: HEAT v THUNDER


June 19, 2012


Rick Carlisle

Pat Riley


MIAMI, FLORIDA: Game Four

THE MODERATOR:  I'd like to introduce Rick Carlisle, Dallas Mavericks head coach and president of the National Basketball Coaches Association for a special presentation.
RICK CARLISLE:  Thank you very much.  On behalf of Michael Goldberg, our executive director who could not be here tonight.  I'd like to thank Brian, everybody from the NBA, for the opportunity to be a small part of the periphery of such a great stage, and having been involved in The Finals five times, I know that we have the greatest stage in all of sports, the NBA Finals.  We're thrilled to be here.
We formed a committee four years ago to vote on this award.  I want to recognize that committee:  Billy Cunningham, one of Chuck's great friends and a Hall of Fame coach; Gregg Popovich; Phil Jackson; Donnie Walsh; Bernie Bickerstaff; Lenny Wilkens, who was last year's recipient of the award; Mike Heisley who is presently still owner of the Memphis Grizzlies; and the guy that Chuck worked for his last three or four years as a consultant.  Pat Riley is a member of this panel, but because he was up for the award, he abstained from voting this year.  Everybody respected that.
On January 31st of 2009, I was in this arena, and I saw Chuck Daly in person for the last time.  I saw him, he looked great, but he was losing weight.  I said, "Chuck, how you doing?"  He goes, "I don't feel great.  We're trying to figure out what it is.  But I think we'll get it figured out."  98 days later he was gone, because of pancreatic cancer.  Pancreatic cancer is the most aggressive form of cancer, and it's the most underscreened, and so our awareness of this disease continues to be heightened.  And again, in these Playoffs and in these Finals we found out recently that one of the great veteran officials, Greg Willard, has pancreatic cancer.  He's been diagnosed.  The thoughts and prayers of the Coaches Association goes out to him.  And fittingly all the other referees are wearing his number 57 during his Finals.
This disease can be beat, but it's a tough road.  But we all need to be aware of it.
Chuck Daly Award past winners, there are four guys.¬† The first guy was 2009, Tom Heinsohn, who was the guy who was the first president of the Coaches Association.¬† Second year was Tex Winter and Jack Ramsay, two Hall‑of‑Famers.¬† Last year was Lenny Wilkens who was an 18‑year president of the Coaches Association and obviously a Hall of Fame coach and a Hall of Fame player.
This award is about what you achieve competitively obviously, and Pat Riley, five NBA championships, the only coach ever to be Coach of the Year with three different teams and a 2008 Hall of Famer.  One of the things I have always respected about Pat is that there was not a Pat Riley style of play.  Pat always adapted to the talent that he had, and he was always able to take that talent, and get the absolute best out of them.
The other things that make him special, and I think the reason that the committee voted on him this year, other things that he did for our sport and our profession.¬† In the '80s, he was one of the main reasons that there was a stratospheric rise in the profile of NBA coaches:¬† The dress, the TV, the Lakers, the impact that he had on that team as a motivator, as a coach, as an X‑and‑O guy, and as a figure.¬† And he and Chuck were side by side in the '80s and early '90s.¬† They were both dressing great and their teams were getting it done.¬† There's a real parallel here, and it's very fitting that he's a recipient tonight.
The other thing he's done, he's developed some of the great young coaches in our game:  Jeff Van Gundy, Stan Van Gundy, Erik Spoelstra.  I know one of them is Billy Donovan, who's a friend of mine, and there are a lot of others.  And Pat has never sought the spotlight on this.  He's always done this behind the scenes, and he does it for the good of the sport and the good of the game.
Five years ago, Pat was instrumental in helping myself and Michael Goldberg get in touch with his owner Micky Arison, who is a guy that we will always have tremendous gratitude, for increasing our pension, and what it did was it increased the benefits for a group of guys who are the keepers are our game, who are the lifers.  A lot of them people don't know, but these are the guys that make the game great.  And Pat was a guy that helped us, and again, this was all behind the scenes, made the lives of those guys better for years and years to come.
I worked with Chuck for two years in New Jersey, and at that time it was great because he had seen it all and done it all.  We had great philosophical conversations, and the topic of Pat Riley came up frequently.  One of the things that Chuck said when there was somebody that he really respected, and there were two people that he said this about, he used the term "man's man," which is the ultimate compliment man to man.  There were two guys Bill Davidson, who was a great owner for the Pistons.  He was an owner for over 30 years.  He became a Hall of Famer two years ago.  And the other was Pat Riley.  While Chuck and Pat didn't get to know each other that well when they were competing against each other, they did get to know each other somewhat after that.
And it's interesting, and as Chuck as I would talk about Pat, Chuck would say, "You know what, I always felt I could keep up with him suit for suit," he said, "but can you imagine what it would be like to be that good looking?"  And I said, "No, I cannot imagine what it would be like."
So it gives me a great amount of pleasure, it's a great privilege to bring Pat up and present him with the 2012 Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award.  Pat Riley (applause).
PAT RILEY:  Well, hello, everybody, and it's good to be back for a minute.  First of all, I want to thank Rick and the Coaches Association.  Either association because most of the players are now coaches.  For 30 years being part of the Association, I remember Jack Ramsay in the beginning and then Lenny Wilkens for many years.  I think what Rick is doing now is above and beyond and creating an environment that's really helping coaches along the way.  There's a lot more communication with the League and with the officials when it comes to making the game better.
And I do want to thank Rick because I know he along with Billy Cunningham were very influential in making this award possible and honoring Chuck Daly.
I think anybody who's been around the NBA, Chuck and I were rivals back in the '80s, but there's a connection that goes back so long.  I can remember in 1966, it's a long time ago, when I was playing for the Kentucky Wildcats and we were playing in the semifinals of the NCAA, and Vic Bubas was the head coach at Duke.  We beat them with Jack Marin and Bob Verga, and Chuck Daly was an assistant coach at that time for the Duke Blue Devils.
We can go back to 1979‑'80, and we had one of those sort of LeBron games by Magic Johnson at 42 and 15 in Philadelphia.¬† Chuck Daly was an assistant coach for Billy Cunningham and that staff.
And when I got my job in 1981, Chuck got his first head coaching job with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and I remember going to Cleveland, and I met him in the bar.  I don't know if it was Ketel One or whatever they were serving back then, he has a famous saying that he's always put out there, and I think I was complaining about certain things with the Lakers at the time, and he just told me to land the freaking plane, Riley, don't worry about it, don't worry about the turbulence and everything you're going through.  I was a very young coach.  Chuck had 15 years of wisdom on me.  And there was just so much that I learned from competing against him.  And it was truly a pleasure, a pleasure to know him after he coached when we were friends, and we could talk just about anything.  I miss him dearly.  This is a great honor for me.
I've had 16 coaches in my life.  The only thing I ever know anything about has been taught to me by coaches.  I love being around them, I love talking to them, and I loved spending time with Chuck Daly especially at the end.
Again, Rick, thanks.  I appreciate this, and this will go in a special place because of my respect and admiration for simply a great man.
If you want to ask me some questions, I'd love to open it up.

Q.  Do you miss it at all, coaching in general?  And also, if you could speak to Chuck Daly's lifetime achievement.
PAT RILEY:  I'll answer the second question first.  Chuck was a winner.  He was a fierce competitor.  I think his greatest strength that I learned from him later on was his picture of the world, and how he saw human nature in players, and how he could get the best out of players.  He and I were at the opposite ends of the spectrum when it came to real coaching.  It didn't take away from the fact that he was a very intense competitor.  But I approached it a little bit differently, and I could not have probably coached the way that Chuck coached.
His achievement with the Pistons in the '80s, the late '80s when he won back‑to‑back titles, I was first hand right there watching him do something that was very, very difficult, and also what he did with the Dream Team in making something that virtually probably was impossible for any man to coach, to make it look absolutely easy.¬† And it was easy.
He presented the product of what we're so proud of to the world in an easy way, but I knew it was very difficult, very hard to get to this place.  His lifetime achievement is simply his integrity, his human nature and the way he could read people and how he related to you as a person.
As far as me missing it, I don't really miss it.  I feel it in the gut right now, like anybody else, but we have a very, very good young coach, who's growing by leaps and bounds.  I did 30 years.  That's enough.  Just talking to Rick about 10, and I asked Rick, one time he had long hair, I said, this only happened after 10, when he cut that off a couple years ago.  I'm afraid about what it's going to look like three or four years from now.

Q.  I just wonder, as I see you sitting watching the games, these Finals games, you just answered that you did it for 30 years, but do you ever jump out of your skin thinking, hoping or wishing that you were on the sidelines to coach a specific play?  It seems like you're so calm when you're in the stands.  Do you ever jump out of your skin?
PAT RILEY:  I'm jumping out of my skin in my mind sitting there calmly.  If I ever decided to do that again, I know why I would say no, because I'd have to face you after every game.  I will not be jumping out of my skin trying to get back out on the floor.
It's a different time.  I mean, I was the most blessed coach of all of them.  I was.  I had the greatest players with the Lakers, in New York great players in Patrick Ewing and John Starks and Charles Oakley.  Came down here with Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Caron Butler, Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O'Neal.  I've been truly blessed, so I don't want to push myself and go back.  I don't really have that kind of desire.

Q.  What do you like about the game and how it's evolved, I guess, since you first got into coaching?
PAT RILEY:¬† What do I like about the game and how it's evolved?¬† Well, it's changed dramatically, and it's changed from, I think, a strategy standpoint, from a rules standpoint.¬† It's a much more wide‑open game, freer game.¬† Back in the '80s we very rarely ever ran pick‑and‑rolls, and now 80 percent of the game is 60 or 70 pick‑and‑rolls, and multiple pick‑and‑rolls, and how to defend all of those situations.¬† The athletes are definitely a lot better, and most of the athletes who are basketball players became better players because of their athleticism and what they can do.
But I think the coaching has taken it, also, to really another level.  We've got a group of coaches in this league that are young and innovative.  They're always, I think, challenging each other.  They work incredibly hard.
So the game is better than it's ever been, and I just hope they don't take the charge out of the game.  I know the Commissioner has become an expert on flopping, so I don't want them flopping back and forth on this issue when it comes to taking the hit somewhere here.  But I think the game is as good as it's ever been.

Q.  What's your take on this series being a culture clash of a team built through the draft versus a team that was primarily assembled through free agency?
PAT RILEY:¬† Well, that's fine.¬† You know, that's‑‑ I think the people who dig down deep and look how franchises are built, we've never been a team that wanted to be a lottery team and build through the draft.¬† The first two years we were in the lottery here, we got Caron Butler and we got Dwyane Wade, and then I quit.¬† That was enough for me.
You can skin a cat a lot of different ways, and in 2006 and 2007 when we knew that 2010 would be a banner year for free agents, we began to plan to build our team that way, and at the same time keep the team competitive, which we did by being a playoff team.
What OKC has done and Sam Presti, what they have done is incredible, and I think what we did for all intents and purposes, another way to build the team.  We got very fortunate that at the right time and at the right place, three players wanted to play together.
Whatever it takes to win in this league, I think that's the way you're going to try to approach it and attack it.

Q.¬† Do you have to pick and choose your spots to talk to Erik because of your success, because of your aura and everything, or do you feel like any time something goes wrong, you have to say something?¬† How do you balance‑‑
PAT RILEY:  I think it's a natural sort of phenomenon, and I would probably go back to the advice of Chuck Daly about that.  I hope I don't get removed from this situation because I have a big shadow.  You know what I'm saying?  I didn't make the shadow, I just did what I did as a coach, and somebody was talking to me today about whether or not he gets too much criticism or too much credit, and thank God he's in the criticism and credit world, because in the middle of that he's got incredible respect from within this organization, incredible respect.  He can't control what goes on out there because it's like an hourglass.  You've got an hourglass, you turn it upside down every 15 minutes, facedown, what's going on out on the court.
He's very mature, and I see him all the time.  I don't bump into him.  I don't call meetings with him.  We collaborate.  And I feel very privileged that at times he will ask me, "well, what do you think?"  And I'll give him my opinion.
But there isn't anybody who wants him to succeed more than I because I want this franchise to win, and I think he's the right man for it.

Q.  What advice do you give him about coaching superstars?
PAT RILEY:  Say, "yes, sir."  Just say, "yes, sir.  Thank you," a lot.  Not really.  He does a great job.  He has a great relationship with our whole team, and he's not fearful of the moment in any way, shape or form.
I watch him every single day, and I'm not amazed by what he's done.

Q.  What is it about your current job that scratches some of the itches that maybe you had as a coach?  Is it different satisfaction?  And as part of that, do you have any sort of a timeline for how much you want to continue doing what you're doing now?
PAT RILEY:  What was the first part of the question?

Q.  Just wondering what you get out of your current job.  Do you scratch some of the same itches that you have as a coach?  Do you get the satisfaction in your role now?
PAT RILEY:  I don't know if you'll ever be able to do that.  I mean, to be out on the court and be a player and be a coach and be in the heat of the battle, real competitive battle where the adrenaline is rushing, it's a whole 'nother world.  You get out of the game because sometimes that takes its toll, also, over 30 years.
But I don't have that kind of itch.  Building the team, being around the players, working every day with a group of people that I've come to know and love in a big way, for me it's a privilege because it's worth their time.  It's like worth their time to want to be here.  And I think when you look at it from that standpoint, you want to be around those kinds of people.
So I'm looking to build this thing even better, and I don't have any timeline.  I've still got a lot of bite left in my bark.  But it's directed in another direction.

Q.  I was just wondering, of all the teams that you coached in your various stops, is there one team that you were especially proud of because you thought you got the absolute maximum out of them?
PAT RILEY:¬† That's a hard one.¬† I mean, the Laker years made me‑‑ they made me.¬† I didn't know what I was doing in the '80s, and they waited for me to become a good coach, and I thank Magic Johnson for that and Jerry West and Jerry Buss.¬† They had tremendous patience with me the first three or four years.¬† Any one of those teams, I would probably say '87 was when that team really matured as a team and hit it on all cylinders.
But my favorite team was the one in 2006 here.  You know, being down and bringing Shaq into it and winning the championship for this city and for Miami, for Micky, that to me will always, I think, probably be the one that I cherish the most.  The last one usually is.

Q.¬† I was also wondering if you could talk to the Pat Riley who guaranteed a back‑to‑back title in '87 and '88, what would you say to him about growth, maturity, all of those things?
PAT RILEY:  Well, in between credit and criticism is fame, and what happens with fame comes position and power.  And if you try to get too much position, too much power, then you say stupid things like I said in 1988.
I would like to say one thing in finishing here with Chuck.  When I went to his funeral, in the remembrance program they had all of his Dalyisms that we used to hear all the time.  I think Bob Ryan lovingly called him the "Prince of Pessimism."  Chuck was an Irish guy that truly believed in a lot of things, and I remember I took one thing from that program, and it's his favorite Irish prayer.  I say it all the time, and probably some of you have already heard me read this, but for Chuck, "May the road rise up to meet you; may the wind be always at your back; may the sun shine warmly down upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields.  And until we meet him again, God will surely hold you and your family in the palm of his hand."
I've been carrying this card ever since his funeral, and I give it away to people.  So I'll never forget Chuck Daly and what he meant to the game and what he meant to me and what he meant to his lovely wife Terry, his daughter Cydney and all of his friends who here have great respect for Chuck Daly.
Tim Donovan has about 100 of these cards, and he's going to hand them out to all of you, and you will always pull that out and remember something about one of the great men this league has ever had.  And we love him, and I want to thank everybody for coming, and again, to Rick Carlisle and the Coaches Association.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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