Pat Riley, part of basketball history, from player, to coach, and now executive of the Miami Heat has again managed to lead and inspire a team of many young promising athletes, and prior acquisitions as Butler and Lowry, to compete for the NBA’s championship.
After last night’s game when our team won against the odds, it reminded me of a brief, but satisfying encounter with Mr. Riley and his spouse in an Iberia flight from Madrid to Miami.
When sitting in the airline’s Club to wait for departure, I realized that Riley was sitting next to me.
After introducing me, our conversation was centered on Alonzo Mourning’s illness and his demonstrated strength of character when facing an ending to his brilliant career.
It happens that he was being treated at UM, when I was still acting as Professor and Vice-Chairman.
Other than my wife’s asking for his autograph for our son that has a collection, our last and funniest moment was when we arrived at Miami.
I had the routine to walk to the last immigration cubicle as not only it was the same way to the exit, but always empty avoiding lengthy lines.
As we walked, I hear Pat tell his wife “Let’s follow the shrink, they know what they are doing”.
In effect we had no wait and as the officer examined our passports, he told me “You know there is Pat Riley behind you”; I had the pleasure to tell him “I know he was purposely following me!” No further comment ensued!
Congratulation Pat, another claim to a great and satisfying career. And thanks for the autograph and the memories of an 87 years old man.