Pat Riley would be Pat Riley if not for a freak accident. In the 1976 NBA Draft, he was drafted by the Detroit Pistons with an injury exemption that allowed him to skip his last year of college and start his professional career in Michigan. That’s where it all began for one of the most important figures in basketball history who has won three championships as coach or general manager and is currently president of Miami Heat Sports and Entertainment Operations LLC

Pat Riley, the former coach of the Miami Heat, wouldn’t be Pat Riley if not for a freak accident. He was an assistant coach at North Carolina State University when he got into a car accident. The accident left him with permanent brain damage that caused him to forget everything he knew. Read more in detail here: pat riley net worth.

Pat Riley Wouldn't Be Pat Riley if Not for a Freak Accident

The “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s were headed by a guy who was more famous for his slicked-back hair and Armani suits than for his basketball skills. Pat Riley led basketball’s most thrilling team from 1981 through 1990 while looking suave doing it. Four rings, successful spells in New York and Miami, and a reputation as one of the best coaches in NBA history followed his time in Hollywood.

Pat Riley, on the other hand, was never supposed to be the coach of this club. Riley is watching the “Showtime” Lakers develop in a parallel dimension without having any involvement in their accomplishment. If it hadn’t been for a horrific event involving LA’s head coach Jack McKinney, it very well may have been the case in our world.

Before becoming a coach, Pat Riley worked as a commentator for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Riley had a decent nine-year NBA career, but he was never a star. From 1970 through 1975, he was most successful when wearing the Purple and Gold. With the great 1971-72 Lakers, who included Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain, the former Kentucky Wildcat scored 7.8 points per game off the bench and won a championship in little over five seasons.

Riley retired in 1976 after a disappointing season with the Phoenix Suns. He returned to the NBA a year later. It wasn’t as a player or a coach, however.

Riley, at 33 years old, was recruited to work in the broadcast booth with famed announcer Chick Hearn in 1977. Despite Hearn’s aversion to having a color man, the two worked together for two successful seasons between 1977 and 1979.

Riley’s life was flipped upside down only days into his third season on the mic. Soon, the former NBA player would have to determine whether or not he was ready to go from the booth to the bench.

Riley became a coach as a result of a rare accident.

On tonight’s episode of “Binge Sesh”: We explore the real-life saga behind the Laker coaches — Jerry West, Jack McKinney, Paul Westhead and Pat Riley — who appear in HBO’s #WinningTime https://t.co/qvCPJ5A5Zs

— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) March 21, 2022

Riley is best known as the head coach of the Magic Johnson-led Lakers. However, since the start of the 1979-80 season, he was the third coach to assume the reins. And he wasn’t the first to turn LA’s offense into the high-octane machine that we all know.

Jerry Buss, the owner, recruited Jack McKinney shortly after an agreement with Jerry Tarkanian fell through. The little-known coach had previously won a championship with the Portland Trail Blazers as Jack Ramsay’s top assistant in 1977. He was coaching Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Norm Nixon, and a Lakers team with high hopes two years later.

McKinney gave Johnson complete control of the offense right away, enabling the superstar to unleash his inventiveness and lead a high-octane offensive. The effects were clear right on, as LA jumped out to a 9-4 lead. Then calamity struck.

The 44-year-old coach was riding his bicycle to the local tennis courts one morning to meet assistant coach Paul Westhead. The gears locked up and the bike abruptly stalled as he reached an intersection, forcing the coach to fly forward and fall headfirst into surrounding concrete. He survived the bizarre event, but he was left with a severe concussion, a shattered cheekbone, a fractured elbow, and other bruises.

With McKinney out of commission, Westhead stepped in as the team’s acting head coach. However, he now need his own personal helper. Riley is a 30-year-old broadcaster who was persuaded to accept the position by Hearn.

Riley told Sports Illustrated, “I didn’t want to do it.” “However, Chick strongly advised that I give it my all. Perhaps he saw something in me that I didn’t. I don’t know whether I would have taken the coaching position if Chick hadn’t recommended me to.”

The Lakers won the 1980 NBA Finals thanks to Westhead and Riley, who helped them overcome the loss of McKinney. After the season, Westhead was named the permanent head coach, and he coached until 11 games into the 1981-82 season, when he was sacked. Riley took over from there, and the rest, as they say, is history.

If it weren’t for McKinney’s accident, Riley’s amazing career would never have happened.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3o1BS5 kFc

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Pat Riley is remembered today by basketball fans as a five-time champion coach and a world-class CEO. But what if McKinney’s bike had never broken down and caused his near-fatal crash?

There was no cause to doubt Jack’s suitability for the position. After all, he gave Magic the freedom to do what he did best while earning the respect of his teammates and peers, especially Buss. If McKinney leads LA to long-term success, there will be no championships for Westhead, and definitely no championships for Riley, the announcer.

Riley would not have taken over the New York Knicks and guided them to four consecutive playoff berths and an Eastern Conference championship if this were not the case. You may also speculate on how the Miami Heat’s whole franchise history might have evolved if Riley hadn’t influenced them starting in 1995.

In other words, if Riley had wanted it hard enough, he may have ultimately obtained a coaching position. It wouldn’t have been with the Lakers, however, the franchise that launched his Hall of Fame coaching career.

Riley was clearly a fantastic coach. But he was fortunate to be given that chance, which came at the expense of others.

Basketball Reference provided all statistics.

Pat Riley’s illustrious NBA career may have been cut short thanks to an unlikely offer from the Dallas Cowboys.

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