INGLEWOOD, CALIF., JUNE 11 -- Nine years and four NBA championships later, the Los Angeles Lakers today finally conducted a news conference to announce a coaching change that actually answered more questions than it raised.

Pat Riley, officially, resigned as coach. Mike Dunleavy was introduced as the new coach. Unlike 1981, when Riley replaced Paul Westhead, the Lakers needed 10 days to make the announcement of Riley's departure and the change in power clear.

"To be honest with you, the reason why we spent almost 3 1/2 weeks to make the decision is that we wanted to make sure we got this one right," said Riley, alluding to his confusing introductory news conference in 1981. "And, so, Jerry West is going to be offensive coordinator, Chick's {Hearn, Lakers radio voice} going to handle the defense, right?"

Whereas Riley's tenure as Lakers coach began in a most confusing and amusing fashion -- owner Jerry Buss saying West, the general manager, was the offensive coach, only to have West anoint Riley, who stood there befuddled -- the concluding news conference of Riley's long, successful Lakers career was definitive and, at times, emotional.

Riley, 45, had decided to resign 10 days ago and only made it official after the Lakers agreed to terms on a reported four-year contract with Dunleavy, a Milwaukee Bucks assistant for three seasons.

Riley said he is mulling an offer from NBC and talking with Buss about a position somewhere with the Lakers or on the California Sports Inc. corporate ladder.

Riley and Buss confirmed that they "mutually agreed" that Riley would resign 10 days ago. Riley said Buss asked him to wait to announce his intentions until a successor could be named. West received permission from the Bucks to speak with Dunleavy, 36, early last week and worked out an agreement during weekend negotiations in Chicago.

"Ten days ago is when Dr. Buss and I came to a mutual decision," Riley said. "And it was my decision. During that time, {Buss} wanted to make sure Jerry {West} had the time to go out and interview people and hire a coach so that when we made this announcement, it wasn't going to be the kind of announcement where, you know, I'm going out the front door and someone else is coming in the back door."

Dunleavy is 36, the same age Riley was when he became Lakers coach. Neither had head coaching experience before taking over the Lakers.

Dunleavy, who smiled a lot and appeared relaxed, said he feels no burden having to replace Riley, voted the NBA's coach of the year this season.

"I don't know any team in this league where there isn't pressure to win," he said. "There's enormous pressure I put on myself. I respect Pat Riley and look up to Pat Riley. If I can be half as good a coach as Pat Riley I will have been very successful."


1981-82: def. Philadelphia, 4-2

1984-85: def. Boston, 4-2

1986-87: def. Boston, 4-2

1987-88: def. Detroit, 4-3




Pat Riley..........102...47....685

x-Chuck Daly........60...31....659

John Kundla.........60...35....632

Billy Cunningham....66...39....629

K.C. Jones..........79...54....594

Red Auerbach........99...69....589

Red Holzman.........58...47....552