Speculation increases that Riley will return

MIAMI -- Reports that Miami Heat president Pat Riley is
contemplating a return to coaching continued Friday, nearly a month
after he announced plans to "take a little bit more of an active
participation" during the coming season.

Team officials declined to comment Friday on the reports, and
coach Stan Van Gundy -- Riley's longtime top assistant who was
promoted before the start of the 2003-04 season -- told The Miami
Herald he has not "heard anything."

Riley was unavailable for comment Friday, and attempts by The AP
to reach Van Gundy were not immediately successful.

"I don't know what's going to go on," Heat guard Dwyane Wade
said Friday night. "Right now, Stan Van Gundy's our coach."

Riley resigned a few days before the start of the 2003-04
season, turning the team over to Van Gundy -- who's gone 101-63
during the regular season, took the Heat to the Eastern Conference
semifinals in his first season and guided Miami to the conference
finals this past season.

During a conference call with reporters on June 17, Riley lauded
the job Van Gundy has done as coach. The team gave Van Gundy a
contract extension a year ago believed to be worth $2.5 million

"Over the last couple of years, Stan has done a great job and
I've stayed way into the background," Riley said during that call.
"I may take a little bit more of an active participation in some
of the things, but for the most part I'm content at doing what I'm

Since then, Riley has said he was "embarrassed" over the
"firestorm" that stemmed from that remark, and has denied that he
has any immediate plans to remove Van Gundy from the sidelines.

Yet several outlets, either without naming or citing sources,
have insisted in recent days that Riley's return is indeed
possible. Jack Ramsay, a former NBA coach and Heat broadcaster,
said on ESPN Thursday that "Riley has indicated to Stan Van Gundy
... that he intends to return as coach of the Heat," and the
Herald said a high-ranking team official believes a realistic
chance of a change exists.

Riley has never denied that he misses coaching, even
acknowledging that it was difficult to sit in the stands when the
Heat made their playoff run this past season.

In 21 seasons as an NBA coach, Riley won 1,110 regular-season
games, 155 playoff games and led the Los Angeles Lakers of the
``Showtime'' era to NBA championships in 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988.
He also coached the New York Knicks (1991-95) and the Heat

Last summer, Riley met with the Lakers about the coaching
vacancy they had at the time. A few weeks after that meeting, Riley
completed a deal that sent three players and a draft pick to the
Lakers in exchange for Shaquille O'Neal.