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Riley Coach of Year for the Third Time

NBA PLAYOFFS | NBA NOTES

May 09, 1997|MARK HEISLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

MIAMI — Now, they call him coach too.

Pat Riley, who took years to get over being embarrassed when people called him by his title, became the NBA's second three-time coach of the year.

The first three-time winner was Don Nelson, with Milwaukee and Golden State. Riley is the first to win with three teams: the Lakers in 1990, the New York Knicks in 1993 and the Miami Heat this season.

"I had a difficult time at one time in my career, early in my career, when people called me coach," Riley said. "I was almost embarrassed by it because I didn't think I was. I had not paid my dues as a coach. I was an NBA player that was pushed through the door because of some circumstances.

"I really, at that time, did not have an idea of what it was like to coach. I had great players that helped me along the way by winning games that allowed me to keep my job, and eventually, I think I learned how to coach and develop a philosophy."

Riley won four titles in a nine-year run with the Lakers. He inherited a 39-43 Knick team and reached the NBA finals in three seasons. And he inherited a Heat team that had never won more than 42 games, and finished first in the Atlantic Division in this, his second season, at 61-21, with a better road record (32-9) than the Bulls had.

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After five years as an assistant and 15 games as interim coach, Eddie Jordan signed a two-year contract with the Sacramento Kings--a team that has had 14 straight losing seasons. Financial terms were not disclosed. . . . Emotional Detroit Piston Coach Doug Collins, who won 100 games faster than any other coach in team history, may not return next season, the Detroit Free Press reported. The newspaper, citing unidentified sources, said odds are good that Collins will announce he is leaving after he returns from a vacation. The Pistons denied any knowledge of a decision. . . . The Chicago Bulls were fined $25,000 by the NBA for failing to make their players available to the media after practice Wednesday. . . . Texas Tech center Tony Battie and guard Cory Carr announced they were making themselves available for the NBA draft. . . . Red Auerbach, 79, was promoted from president to vice chairman of the Boston Celtics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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