By JORGE MILIAN – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Heat coach Pat Riley was named today as one of 15 finalists for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Riley has won five NBA championships as a coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and Heat and ranks third on the all-time list for coaching victories behind Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens and Don Nelson, who is also a finalist.
The 62-year-old Riley’s accomplishments makes it virtually certain that he will be a member of the Hall of Fame’s 2008 class when it is announced on April 7 in San Antonio.
Riley, who also coached the New York Knicks during 25 seasons on the bench, said he was “fortunate” to have worked with outstanding talent.
“I started with great teams, great players — all of them Hall of Famers or are going to be Hall of Famers,” said Riley, who won four NBA titles in his first seven seasons as a coach with the Lakers. “It sort of jump-started me out there. The 25 years has been a long time, but there’s been a body of work out there that just makes it, if I get selected, a great honor.”