The Miami Heat are now the hottest hoops team in the land.
LeBron James and company proved to be too much for Kevin Durant’s talented,
While the Miami players and coaching staff deserve much credit for playing well,
Pat Riley, the team president, is also entitled to recognition for the outstanding job he
did in running this organization and for his role in bringing this year’s NBA
Championship to the Sunshine State.
With this victory, Pat Riley has cemented his position as a true basketball icon.
In my mind, he joins the ranks of great basketball leaders. He can now be compared
to other basketball gurus like Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson, John Wooden, Geno
Auriemma, Pat Summit, Mike Krzyzewski, Bob Knight and Chuck Daly.
Great coaches like Pat Riley are superb strategists, outstanding leaders, effective
motivators and great judges of talent.
Basketball can arguably be thought of as the ultimate team sport. Getting talented
players to play like a well-oiled machine takes great organizational and psychological
skills. And great coaches, like Riley, and the others mentioned earlier seem to be able to
work their psychological magic with a wide range of players with varied personalities.
Interestingly, some of these coaching gurus have shown that they can win at the
Olympic level, at the professional level and at the collegiate level. These leaders
obviously know the X’ s and O’s of the game very well.
They also know how to get their teams to be resilient and consistent when faced with
adversity. And they know how to persuade players to set their egos aside and place the
team first. This is no easy task in today’s sometime overly narcissistic sports culture
The importance of leadership in winning big games, is a topic that my coauthor,
Carlton Chin and I address in our book- Who Will Win The Big Game? The 50
Characteristics Of Championship Athletes, Teams And Coaches.
Business leaders, teachers, organizational psychologists and politicians can probably
learn some useful management lessons from outstanding coaches, like Pat Riley.
Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a Psychotherapist in River Edge, New Jersey and the Founder of