Panes: Channelling Riley

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By Joel Panes

Optic Yellow

Monday, July 7, 2014

FOR those who inhale great basketball, one Patrick James Riley, an athlete, a multi-titled coach and an elite general manager commands awe and respect. He was no Lebron in his time. In his 10 years in the NBA as a shooting guard, he made 3906 points only and averaged only 7.4 points per game. This is a far cry from his college stint as a Wildcat in the University of Kentucky where he averaged 18.3 points.

By contrast King James, who is the most coveted hoopster on planet earth and has just completed his 11th, has already amassed 23,170 points; and averaged 27.5 points per game. His point production is 9,123 points away from overtaking Michael Jordan, 3rd at 32,292 points. Lebron, unlike Riley had not gone to college. After his senior year in St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Ohio where he averaged 25.3 points, he was lured into the NBA’s megabuck world as the 1st in his draft class.

But today’s column will not be about Lebron but the savvy of Riley.
I do not doubt that there are many facets in the life of this man whose career has established several enviable achievements. To this day, he continues to highlights today’s headlines with the wisdom and savvy of a master tactician in the arena of sports management.


He wasn’t always elderly wise. He was only 38 years old when he was thrust into the limelight as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1982-83 when Westphal, the incumbent coach was fired. Riley with his first dynamic trio, Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Kareem Abdul Jabaar and the “show time” paradigm brought the prestige of an NBA world championship to the team of purple and gold.

What one can glean Riley’s book if one reads his life as walking “obra maestra” transcends the fact of sports as a mere athletic event.
I say that because our national, regional or institutional affliction which trickles down to sports stems from the fact that highly priced degrees earned have become like labels wrapped around the can. The colours are enticing but in the frying pan, the hues disappear and the product falls short of the disclosure.

The great part of having the label, whether these are painted in shades of maroon and green or red and grey or blue and gold, red, white and blue or whatever combination is adapted to brandish some vision, character or virtue is the sincerity that these discloses the truth or the journey towards attaining the Truth. Still the letter should be one and united with the substance and nothing less.

Sadly or us, the practice is not always so. There is the despicable part that the media-genic appeal and glittering and shimmering splendour of label are screens withholding the truthfulness of the substance.

In my head, I recall an image of a cowboy puffing a cigarette. Have you seen that advertisement somewhere? Yeah, it was a cool picture. Now we know the clear print misrepresented the content. In some cases, the performance is below the expectation.

The savvy and genius of Patrick James Riley is actually our anti-thesis.

Let’s forget that he was born in New York. Let’s forget he graduated from University of Kentucky. Let’s forget that he wears sleek-looking a two thousand dollar Armani suit. For the moment, let’s just remember that he is man – not half of a man who also failed. With the New York Knicks, a title could not be had. From this failure, he succeeded.

Years after he brought the Miami Heat, an expansion team its first title in 2006 a championship. These are mere labels. These are letters reflecting the truth consistent with the substance within him.
Before a world of restrained by caps, Riley’s enviable energy, capacity and capability are being put on display.

His moves and acts are like lessons in human behaviour, management and strategy imparted in a borderless classroom. His wisdom and savvy of his ways and approaches leap from a book of life which is spontaneously being written while the storyline heads to its climax. The heights are somewhere out there still to be engraved in stone.

How we wish that we in this mountain highlands can sit before Riley and bask in his competitive spirit. How we wish we were situated as Eric Spoelstra who is continually nurtured with the aspects of Riley’s organizational vision.

How we wish we are disciplined like young Norris Cole or Toney Douglas by Riley’s whip. While the chances of directly learning are nil, we can still find contentment. As for me, I will have great joys in channelling Riley.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 08, 2014.


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