MIAMI – Pat Riley was walking out of Chuck Daly’s hospital room in 2009, got to the doorway and turned around for another word from his longtime colleague, rival and friend.
Riley remembers it vividly.
“He looked at me, I looked back at him for a pause and he just sort of said, ‘I’ll see you later,’ ” said Riley, the Hall of Fame coach and now president of the Miami Heat. “I’ll never forget it. That was the last time I saw him.”
Riley and Daly were rivals as coaches, eventually became close friends and now they’re linked again. The National Basketball Coaches Association selected Riley as this year’s recipient of the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award, which commemorates the former Detroit coach’s life in basketball and his “standard of integrity, competitive excellence and tireless promotion” of the game.
Riley is the fifth person to receive the award, joining Tommy Heinsohn in 2009, Jack Ramsay and Tex Winter in 2010 and Lenny Wilkens in 2011.
“This is not an award,” Riley said. “This is something somebody bestows on you. I’m very honored that the coaches association would do this.”
Riley has been part of the NBA for more than 40 years, with 1,210 wins and 21 playoff appearances as a head coach, a slew of charitable undertakings in Miami, Los Angeles and New York.
“Well, for us as a team, he means a lot,” Heat forward LeBron James said of Riley. “You know, he put together this team, and we just look at his résumé. We look at his experience either as a player, as a coach or as an executive. He’s done some great things. … He’s won at the highest level multiple times.”