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Lakers Moments: Coach Pat Riley knows how to win

April 25, 2011 |  3:30 pm

Click here to read more about Coach Pat Riley. Listen here: Coach Pat Riley talks to James Worthy, left, and Bob McAdoo on the Lakers' bench at the Forum in 1983.

Some people are just in the right place at the right time. Take Pat Riley, for example, who inherited one of the most talented rosters ever and ran with it. Then he ran with it some more -- all the way to the Hall of Fame.

Riley brought more than championships to Los Angeles, he brought an image. His greased-back hair, tailor-made suits and drill-sergeant mentality made him a perfect fit amid the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown in the 1980s.

His Lakers players were flashy, they were entertaining, but they were also tough -- a reflection of their coach, who's mantra was "no rebounds, no rings."

He still owns the highest winning percentage of any coach in Lakers history, and his 102 playoff wins are also a franchise record. Remarkably, the Lakers reached the Finals seven times in Riley's nine seasons, winning four titles and becoming the first repeat NBA champions since the Boston Celtics in the 1960s.

The fourth former Laker player to coach the team, Riley pored over videotape for hours, recording every game, analyzing every possession, looking for any possible edge. He was steadfast in his belief that effort is all that separates excellence from mediocrity. Following the Lakers' 1987 championship, Riley said, "Hard work doesn't guarantee anything, but without it you don't stand a chance."

Read more about Pat Riley and his years as a coach in All Things Lakers, the L.A. Times' interactive database of all things purple and gold.

Join the Lakers at L.A. Times Facebook page.

-- Steve Galluzzo

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times