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Riley May Have Beaten the Heat on Tampering : Pro basketball: Coach reportedly sent memo to Miami while he was still with Knicks.

<i> From Staff and Wire Reports</i>

Pat Riley pursued the Miami Heat coaching job while employed by the New York Knicks, going so far as to send a list of 14 demands to the Heat owner, the New York Times reported.

Meanwhile, CNN, quoting anonymous sources, said Riley has accepted the Miami job and that an announcement is imminent. Mark Pray, the Heat’s public relations director, said no announcement has been scheduled.

Riley reportedly sent a memo to Heat owner Micky Arison asking for 20% ownership in the franchise and a $3-million salary.

Citing three unidentified sources, the newspaper said Arison acknowledged at a league investigation into tampering charges levied by the Knicks that he received the unsigned memo from Riley dated June 5--four days before Riley’s final meeting with Madison Square Garden President Dave Checketts and 10 days before the coach faxed his resignation.

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The memo reportedly included a request by Riley to immediately gain 10% ownership of the Heat and another 10% over the length of the contract. It also detailed salary requests--$15 million over five years, the same amount offered by the Knicks--housing compensation and $300 a day per diem.

League rules require teams to receive another team’s permission before talking to a coach under contract. But it was not until the day after the tampering charge was filed that the Heat asked the Knicks for permission to negotiate with Riley, who had a year remaining on his contract. New York General Manager Ernie Grunfeld denied the request.

Neither the Knicks nor the Heat would comment Friday, citing an order from NBA Commissioner David Stern not to talk about the case. Stern would not confirm the existence of the memo, saying it would be “inappropriate to comment” on the matter before it has been resolved.

He said he is prepared to make a ruling on the tampering charge before the end of next week but would prefer for the teams to settle the matter. The Knicks want at least an unconditional 1996 first-round draft pick and $1 million from the Heat for letting Riley out of his contract. The memo seemingly gives the Knicks leverage.

Regardless of whether the teams reach a settlement or Stern decides, Riley appears certain to work for Miami either this season or next. Stern can prohibit the former Laker coach from joining the Heat in 1995-96.

Stern’s last significant ruling on a tampering charge was against Portland in 1984. He fined the Trail Blazers $250,000 for having contact with representatives for Hakeem Olajuwon after his sophomore season at the University of Houston.


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