UPDATED: Heat’s Pat Riley lapping Phil Jackson’s success in front office

Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers Phil Jackson and Head Coach of the Miami Heat Pat Riley share a laugh before the game on December 25, 2005 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. The Heat defeated the Lakers 97-92. (Photo by Victor Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers Phil Jackson and Head Coach of the Miami Heat Pat Riley share a laugh before the game on December 25, 2005 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. The Heat defeated the Lakers 97-92. (Photo by Victor Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

Being a successful NBA player does not always mean you’d make a successful NBA executive.

Why? Because for every Pat Riley, there is a Phil Jackson.

Both Riley and Jackson were good NBA players who became great NBA coaches. Both coached the Los Angeles Lakers to multiple NBA championships, and Jackson won 11 rings overall when you include the six he won with the Chicago Bulls.

But they have fared differently in the front office. When comparing their front-office careers, Riley has longevity over Jackson, but it’s fair to say that, so far, the “Zen Master” has nothing to compare to the calming hand “The Godfather” has used to steer the Heat through good and bad times.

And today, Jackson’s time as an executive came to an end when it was reported that he and the Knicks are parting ways. Jackson, 71, likely is  done as a top executive given his disastrous run in N.Y.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how they’ve fared:

Phil Jackson

  • Became President of Basketball Operations of the New York Knicks in March 2014.
  • Leaves with the Knicks going 80-166 in his three full seasons as team president, losing at least 50 games in each season.
  • Hired one of his former players, Derek Fisher — who had recently retired and had no head coaching experience — to coach the Knicks after firing Mike Woodson, who had gone 109-79 in parts of three seasons in New York.
  • Re-signed Carmelo Anthony in the 2014 offseason to a deal that included veto power over the Knicks trading him without his approval.
  • In the 2014-15 season, the Knicks set a franchise mark with 16 straight losses and went 17-65, their worst record ever.
  • Drafted Kristaps Porzingis fourth overall in 2015.
  • Fired Derek Fisher in Feb. 2016 after a 1-9 stretch left the Knicks with a 23-31 record.
  • In a surprise move, hired Jeff Hornacek in June 2016 to replace interim coach Kurt Rambis. Hornacek had been fired earlier in the year by Phoenix.
  • Has used Twitter and other passive-aggressive means to ridicule and undermine Anthony.

Pat Riley

  • Stepped down as head coach of the Heat to turn his full attention to being team president after the 2002-03 season.
  • Drafted Dwyane Wade fifth overall in 2003.
  • In 2004, traded Caron Butler, Brian Grant, Lamar Odom and a first-round draft pick to the Los Angeles Lakers for Shaquille O’Neal, who was disgruntled with the Lakers.
  • Took over as head coach again during the 2005-06 season after he pushed out Stan Van Gundy.
  • With O’Neal and Wade, the Heat won their first NBA championship in June 2006, defeating the Dallas Mavericks 4-2.
  • In 2008 after the Heat finished 15-67, Riley stepped down as head coach again but remained team president and promoted Erik Spoelstra to head coach. Spoelstra has proven to be an inspired hire and is now the second-longest-tenured coach in the league behind Gregg Popovich.
  • In 2010, Riley signed free agents LeBron James and Chris Bosh to team up with Wade, forming a trio that would play in four straight NBA Finals and win two championships.
  • Won the 2011 NBA Executive of the Year award.
  • Did not re-sign Wade, the face of the franchise, in the summer of 2016, instead opting to rebuild the team around a young core. Miami entered the week with a 24-31 record, but had won 13 of their last 14 despite a roster shortened by injuries to its young stars and made up of castoffs, journeymen and unproven players.

Time for Heat prez Pat Riley to dig into save drafts and tell Phil Jackson to ‘shut the … up’

 

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Pat Riley once told Danny Ainge to “shut the f— up” through a statement.

Now that we know Riley tends to hold onto documents in his “save drafts” (just ask Dwyane Wade) perhaps he could dust that one off and send it to Phil Jackson.

Jackson may have taken over two championship ready teams (Bulls, Lakers) and collected 11 rings along the way, but nothing he has done suggests he has a “vibe” to build anything resembling a championship team from the ground up.

In a recent interview with ESPN, Jackson, now the Knicks president, questioned how Riley could lose Wade this summer and said LeBron James leaving Miami for Cleveland in 2014 “definitely was a slap in the face.”

Jackson added that Riley’s “vibe” with his players has broken down.

“I always thought Pat had this really nice vibe with his guys. But something happened there where it broke down,” Jackson said.

Riley and Jackson have had a long-standing rivalry, dating back to when Jackson took over the ready-made Bulls with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant and led them to six titles in eight years, losing the two years Jordan experimented with baseball.

During that run, Jackson’s Bulls were 3-1 in playoff series against Riley’s Knicks and eliminated Riley’s Heat twice.

What separates Riley – who has seven titles as a coach and executive – from Jackson are the three titles Riley won in Miami: 2006 (president/coach), 2012 and 2013 (president).

Jackson’s only experience with running a team started in 2014 when he was named president of the Knicks. He’s made one disastrous coaching hire (Derek Fisher) and the Knicks have lost 115 games in Jackson’s two full seasons. Jackson’s attempt at a quick fix this year meant bringing in Derrick Rose.

In 2013, Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, made the mistake of criticizing James for questioning the officials for calls they made during a Heat-Bulls game.

“I think the referees got it right,” Ainge told a radio station. “I think that it’s almost embarrassing that LeBron would complain about officiating.”

Riley responded in a statement released though a Heat spokesperson:

“Danny Ainge needs to shut the f— up and manage his own team. He was the biggest whiner going when he was playing and I know that because I coached against him.”

Maybe it’s time for Riley to go back into those saved drafts.

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[Goran Dragic out of walking boot, but not ready to return from sprained ankle]

[Pat Riley speaks about current Heat rebuild, vision for Hassan Whiteside, loss of Dwyane Wade]

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Phil Jackson wonders if Heat president Pat Riley has lost his ‘vibe’

Miami Heat President Pat Riley watching from the stands during the trophy ceremonies of the Eastern Conference Final between the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers, Monday June 03, 2013, at American Airlines Miami.(Bill Ingram/Palm Beach Post)
Miami Heat President Pat Riley watching from the stands during the trophy ceremonies of the Eastern Conference Final between the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers, Monday June 03, 2013, at American Airlines Miami.(Bill Ingram/Palm Beach Post)

SAN ANTONIO — Phil Jackson has some thoughts on the Heat and Pat Riley.

In an interview with ESPN, the Knicks president said he “found it surprising” that Riley’s communication with Dwyane Wade broke down this summer. Throw in the way LeBron James left Miami, Jackson said Riley might have lost his “nice vibe with the guys.”

Here are Jackson’s comments on Riley and the Heat … Continue reading “Phil Jackson wonders if Heat president Pat Riley has lost his ‘vibe’”