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Jerry West on Pat Riley.
"He's inventive. He makes good, quick decisions in games,"
former Lakers General Manager Jerry West told Sports Illustrated in 1985.
"He has the faith of the team and the knowledge to design an offense for
the players and not the coach. He has tremendous belief in himself and his sense
of his role here. He [has] the perfect temperament."
Great Coaches, Great Leaders ...
I think so.
The 1980-81 Lakers suffered a shocking first-round elimination at the hands
of Houston, and 11 games into the 1981-82 season, Lakers brass felt the team
needed to take a new direction. Friction between Magic Johnson and Westhead and
impatience with Westhead's half-court offense set the scene for Riley to take
over as head coach on Nov. 19, 1981. "I was numb," he said at the
time. "I thought the firing was terrible."
Riley installed a running offense and the Lakers responded
by winning 17 of the next 20 games and finished the season at 57-25. In the
playoffs they swept both Phoenix and San Antonio before knocking off
Philadelphia in six games to give Riley a championship ring in his first season
as head coach.
For the next eight years, Riley's Lakers teams were regulars in
the NBA Finals. It was during that time that he developed what he called
"TI," his fits of temporary insanity. According to his book The Winner
Within, effective TI involves "being angry at the right time to the right
degree, at the right people.... It requires a focused plan, and it demands a
rapid follow-up of compassion to prevent lasting damage."
Friend and movie director Robert Towne described one such
outburst for Sports Illustrated. It came after a loss to San Antonio in which
the players spent a timeout watching Dancing Barry instead of paying attention
as Riley diagrammed a play in the closing minutes. "In comes a man with a
tray of about 40 Cokes.... [Riley] sweeps his arm across the tray and sprays
Coke and ice all over, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's seven feet of new suit.
And Riley has the satisfaction, while he makes his case for how terrible they
are, of being able to crunch around, grinding the ice cubes into the
It was in L.A. that Riley also developed his penchant for
slick suits. "Dress is a decorum I have to keep as a coach," he told
writer Kenny Moore. "My first year I was slacks, coat, tie, very soft. Then
it began to change to more authority, and suits."
The Lakers made it back to the Finals each of the next two
seasons, but they were swept by Philadelphia in 1983 and then edged by Boston in
seven games in 1984. Finally, in 1985, the Lakers reclaimed the title by beating
the Celtics in six games. The victory was one of the most satisfying
achievements of Riley's career. Up to that point, Boston had won all eight NBA
Finals matchups against the Lakers. Riley was determined to motivate his
players, disarm the Celtics "mystique," and come away with another
ring. He did.
Leader attributes... start with these:
Asks the right questions
Poses the right challenges
Models the right enthusiasm
Has the right timing
Creates more leaders
Is data driven
and understands variation; common and system causes vs. special /
Why are these things important....coming soon
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