Riley gets Hall of Fame call
SAN ANTONIO -- Pat Riley, winner of four NBA championships as coach of the Lakers and a fifth with the Miami Heat, is among seven who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 5 in Springfield, Mass.
He will be joined by former NBA standouts Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon and Adrian Dantley, former Immaculata coach Cathy Rush, Detroit Pistons owner Bill Davidson and ESPN analyst Dick Vitale.
Vitale, passed over in previous years, said he “cried like a baby,” when he learned he would be inducted and stood on the stage “in awe of all these giants.”
Riley got the biggest laugh minutes earlier when he said being in Vitale’s class had its perks.
“We now know we will be promoted forever and ever,” he said.
After the announcement, Riley recalled becoming the Lakers’ interim coach during the 1981-82 season, and reeled off a long list of his Lakers players, starting with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Michael Cooper.
“The teams I had in the ‘80s is what propelled me,” he said.
The Lakers won NBA titles in 1982, ’85, ’87 and ’88 under Riley, who went on to coach the New York Knicks and Miami Heat, who have lost 64 games this season.
“That tells you how fair the Hall of Fame could be in terms of body of work,” he said.
Rush, despite three AIAW national championships at Immaculata and a 149-15 record in seven seasons, had been passed over repeatedly. She celebrated when the call came from John Doleva, the Hall of Fame president and chief executive.
“I told him I had lost more nominations for the Hall of Fame than I lost games,” she said.
Vitale, too, was braced for disappointment.
“I thought I was going to become the Susan Lucci of the Hall of Fame,” he said.