With the marquee franchise in Los Angeles reeling from a less than stellar season, the Lakers are in search of their former glorious identity. Lebron’s first season with the purple & gold was pretty much a wash, missing 18 games, and the young core of the Lakers seemed to lose their way once LBJ went down. On the last game of the season, Magic Johnson stepped down as president of basketball operations at an impromptu press conference. Jeanie Buss is now left with a franchise that looks to be playing second fiddle to the Los Angeles Clippers. There is no big name coach out there or top level executive, however there is one man who can bring back “Showtime:” Pat Riley.
Pat Riley started out as a run of the mill role player for the Lakers in 1967 through the 74-75 season. While he wasn’t a superstar by any means, his acute basketball mind was evident in his playing days. After he retired he was was an assistant coach for the Lakers from 79-81. After Magic Johnson had publicly stated to the media just six games into the 81-82 season that he would rather be traded than play for then HC Paul Westhead, Owner Jerry Buss fired Westhead and promoted Riley to the role of head coach. From there, the glory days of the “Showtime” Lakers was born. The Lakers went on to win four titles in the 80’s (the 5th coming when Riley was then just an assistant in 1980). Riley had as much to do as his players in ushering in a golden era of basketball that really saved the league from potentially going under. However, after the 89-90 season ended, Riley stepped down after the Lakers lost to the Suns in the playoffs and ultimately ended the showtime era in tinsel town.
After leaving LA, Riley enjoyed success in both New York and Miami. Once he moved east he went away from the flashy style we all saw him go with in LA, moving to a rougher, more physical type of coaching in order to combat the behemoth of the Chicago Bulls. Riley, however, would only capture one more title as a coach (that one coming with D Wade and Shaq in 2006). But for the better part of 20 years Riley has really not coached, leaving that stressful life in order to be an NBA executive. Riley is one of the rare people in the NBA who had sustained success in coaching and then again in the front office, his two biggest accomplishments being drafting Dwyane Wade & bringing LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Miami, which resulted in 2 more titles for Riley. Pat’s basketball mind is unmatched along with being able to sign key free agents and picking out great talent.
Jeanie Buss is in dire straits. She lost the most beloved Laker of the last 30 years as her President of basketball ops and has no head coach currently. Pat Riley has done it all, but with Miami looking to be years away from contending can the ever competitive Riley just sit around and deal with all the losing or will he look for his swan song back where his rise to fame began? The Lakers have a lot of question marks and are certainly not as glamorous or looked at as the franchise in LA, Pat Riley would not only give them a big name but certainly he would make the right moves for the Lakers to be dominant once more. Now of course he would have to sell his ownership stake in Miami, and most certainly would want plenty of power if he were to return.. the question then becomes, just how desperate are the Lakers? We shall soon find out.