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									Albany, N.Y.: - Print Story                                                            Page 1 of 2

                Despite travels, Riley hasn't
                forgotten roots
By MARK McGUIRE, Staff writer
Click byline for more stories by writer.
First published: Saturday, September 6, 2008
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Dismiss the designer suits and slicked-back hair and SoCal/Midtown/South
Beach cool. Put aside all the NBA titles if you want, if you can. Forget the celebrities and the superstars
he calls friends.

Pat Riley is still in many ways just one of the guys from Linton, a hard-nosed Schenectady kid fiercely
loyal to his hometown, even if he's an icon on the national stage.

He's grateful for that, for a lot of things.

He knows he's lucky to be here this Friday morning, at the Basketball Hall of Fame, about to be inducted
for his accomplishments primarily as an NBA coach. Watch Riley struggle to come up with an all-time
starting five just from the players he coached; he knows he's been blessed.

Well, there's Magic, of course. And D-Wade. James Worthy plays the three, Riley decides. Then it gets
tricky, so he bails: The power forward and center positions would be covered by a rotation among
Kareem and 'Zo and Patrick and Shaq.

Pretty good team.

But Riley said he's lucky for another reason. For all his cosmopolitan qualities, the 63-year-old former
coach who forged his legendary status in high-flying L.A. and New York and Miami said growing up in
1950s-1960s Schenectady made him who is.

"Schenectady, New York,'' he said, "is what it's all about.''

In a career spanning five decades, Riley knows he can't possibly thank all those who helped get him

He's presented Friday night by Jerry West — the former teammate and general manager who named
him head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers early in the 1981-82 season — and Magic Johnson, the point
guard responsible for the bulk of Riley's seven world titles amassed as a player and coach.

"Do you think I'm ready for this?'' Riley asked West when tapped for his first head-coaching gig.

"You'll be fine,'' West responded. "Just throw the ball to Kareem and let Magic run the show.''

So he did. West was right, and Magic did right by him. "The logo and the smile,'' Riley said, flashing his
own recognizable toothy grin.

But there are others to thank, starting with his Linton hoops coach, Walt Przybylo, and his Kentucky
mentor, Adolph Rupp. The first helped convert him from a sketchy kid into a man; the second molded
the basketball player and mind.                                          9/6/2008
Albany, N.Y.: - Print Story                                                         Page 2 of 2

Then there's the busload of buddies from Schenectady who made the trek for this moment. There's not
enough time at the podium to thank them all. But they know. They know.

"I've been thinking about it for a month, thinking about a lot of things, a lot of names,'' Riley said.
"There's no way you can thank everybody. They'll all be there. I hope they understand. I'll get them all
at the party after.

"All the people that are coming have shared something in this,'' he continued. "They're going to bust my
chops big time at the party.''

"Ah, do we have to?'' Craig Brown, the former Schenectady High principal, said sarcastically moments
getting off the bus.

That's what real buddies do.

And Brown is a Mont Pleasant guy.

As Riley waxes on his childhood, you dismiss the idea he's coughing up empty platitudes for the
hometown press. He believes deeply, sincerely, that growing up in Upstate New York forged the man
and coach he became.

That man is a GQ-splendid celeb, at home among the biggest names, the guy who brought Showtime to
Inglewood, a hit to off-Broadway and a tack-on title to Miami.

That man is also Riles, the bud from Schenectady who still gets busted on by his friends.

"Everybody thought Pat came from a silver-spoon family,'' Bobby Iovinella, Linton '62, said before
mixing with the swells at a pre-induction mixer. "He came from a blue-collar family. No one knew that in
L.A. He had a blue-collar mentality, and he kept that all these years.''

For that, for all of that, Pat Riley is thankful. He should be.

Mark McGuire can be reached at 454-5467 or by e-mail at Visit his blog at                                       9/6/2008

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