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Billy Cunningham Gives Up CBS Job; Network May Consider Hiring Riley

July 16, 1988|LARRY STEWART

Pat Riley may be faced with a major decision within the next couple of months.

Billy Cunningham has decided to give up his job as a CBS basketball commentator, and the network is said to be interested in Riley, among others, as a replacement.

Cunningham earned about $500,000 last season with CBS. Riley made about $350,000 as the Lakers' coach, but his contract is up for renewal and he is expected to be offered a considerable raise, particularly since the San Antonio Spurs gave Larry Brown a five-year contract that pays him an average of $700,000 a season.

Riley has said he plans to be back with the Lakers next season. He could not be reached for comment Friday.

Cunningham said from his home in Philadelphia that he has notified CBS of his decision to remain as general manager of the Miami Heat, a National Basketball Assn. expansion team. He said he met with Neal Pilson, CBS Sports president, and Ted Shaker, the department's executive producer, Thursday in New York.

Cunningham also owns 10% of the Heat, which reportedly has increased in value from $32.5 million to about $70 million in the past year.

"The team was just a thought 2 1/2 years ago," Cunningham said. "Now it's a reality. I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to be a part of it."

Cunningham said the financial aspects of his involvement with the Heat did not enter into his decision.

Mark Carlson, a spokesman for CBS, said a decision on Cunningham's replacement won't be made for at least two months.

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