Heat’s Riley: Continuity Trumps Draft

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December 31, 2013
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NBA legendary coach and now president of the world champion Miami Heat discusses how he manages the thriving sports organization.

Pat Riley, current team president of the Miami Heat, has a sports résumé that’s packed with season after season of success. In addition to being inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame and coaching the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat to five world championships, he is the only North American sports figure to win a championship as a player, coach and executive. What is the key to his success, and how does he maintain excellence?

IndexUniverse Editor-in-Chief Drew Voros recently spoke with Riley about his management philosophy. Riley will also discuss his formula for success as a keynote speaker at Inside ETFs on Monday, Jan. 27.

IndexUniverse: As financial professionals, we want to hear the way you operate your business, the Miami Heat. That’s what this interview is about. We’re looking to see how you manage the organization, how you select your key people, that sort of thing.

Pat Riley: I'm looking forward to it. You know, it’s always a challenge to go outside your world and understand that the Miami Heat and your organization simply have a platform in which you jump off to sell product. And basically, we all do it the same way. We just have different terminology.

IU: Risk management is a big part of the financial world. We’ve just seen Kobe Bryant of the Lakers get hurt and will be out for weeks. What happened to Kobe has to be an NBA executive’s worst nightmare. But you also have to prepare for it, don’t you?

Riley: When you lose an asset like that and your team is built around players like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, whoever it is, it doesn’t really make any difference what happens to you. It’s how you deal with it. And I think it comes down to the word “trust.”

The players trust us because they know we’re competent. We’re going to make them better players. We’re going to make sure they’re the best-fed and nutrition-oriented conditioned team in the league. They bank on that. Otherwise, they probably wouldn’t want to really play for us if they didn’t trust that we were competent.

Lastly is the reliability factor. They know we’re going to be there if something happens. It’s a real tragedy when you lose an asset, a product that all of a sudden you can’t sell to your customer anymore.

What happened to Kobe was a freak injury. It does hurt the organization. But he also knows that the organization has his best interests … I mean he’s a week away from signing a $57 million contract that’s fully guaranteed, whether he’s playing or not. He has 18 years invested in the Los Angeles Lakers. The team is going to take care of him.

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