MIAMI, Sept. 2 -- The Miami Heat Saturday named Pat Riley as their president and head coach, one day after settling a tampering charge filed by the New York Knicks. Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but the Miami Herald reported that the deal is worth $15 million over five years and includes an ownership interest in the team. The hiring ends a 2 1/2-month ordeal in which the Knicks accused the Heat of illegally contacting Riley before he stepped down as head coach of the Knicks on June 15. 'This is one of the dramatic changes in my life,' Riley said at a news conference on a cruise ship docked in Miami. 'It was a matter of lifestyle. It was a matter of committment.' Mickey Arison, who became primary owner of the team in February, was pleased to hire Riley, who becomes the team's fourth head coach in its eight-year history. 'I think there is no better demonstration of our committment than presenting to our fans today the most successful coach in the NBA as the new head coach of the Miami Heat,' Arison said. The two teams Friday reached a settlement on the tampering charges. The agreement calls for the Knicks to receive $1 million and a 1996 first-round draft choice previously acquired by Miami from the Atlanta Hawks. In return, the Knicks allowed the Heat to enter into an employment agreement with Riley. The Heat acquired Atlanta's first round selection in a previous trade and will receive the Hawks' first-round pick in 1996 as long as it is not a top-five selection.
The Knicks would receive a 1997 first-round pick if the selection was in the top five in 1996. Riley replaces Alvin Gentry as head coach of the Heat. Gentry compiled a 15-21 record after replacing Kevin Loughery on Feb. 14. Riley takes over a team that finished in fourth place in the Atlantic Division with a 32-50 record last season. The Heat have made the playoffs just twice since joining the NBA in 1988. National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern was scheduled to rule Friday on the tampering charges if an agreement was not reached. Stern urged both sides to work out on agreement before making a ruling. Riley reportedly submitted a memo to the Heat outlining his contract demands before he resigned. Representatives for Riley reportedly submitted a 14-point unsigned memo to Arison dated June 5, 10 days before Riley resigned as coach of the Knicks. The memo was discussed at an Aug. 4 hearing in New York on the tampering charges filed by the Knicks against the Heat. The contract proposal reportedly includes a 20 percent ownership interest in the club, $15 million in salary over five years and per diem expenses of $300 per day. Riley left the Knicks with one year left on his five-year contract. Miami officials were quoted publicly on several occasions regarding their interest in Riley in their search for a head coach. Riley fell one win short of leading the Knicks to the NBA title in 1993-1994. Riley, who coached the Knicks for the last four years, reportedly was offered an extension worth $15 million over five years, but turned it down. The Knicks were 223-105 under Riley and won at least 51 games in each of his four seasons. His best season was 1993-94, when the Knicks advanced to their first NBA Finals since 1973 and lost to the Houston Rockets in seven games. The Knicks won three Atlantic Division titles under Riley, who was named NBA Coach of the Year following the 1989-90 and 1992-93 seasons. Riley came to the Knicks after guiding the Los Angeles Lakers to four NBA titles. In nine seasons with the Lakers, Riley built a 533-194 record, the best winning percentage in NBA history (.733). The Lakers finished atop the Pacific Division every season under Riley from 1982 to 1990. Riley has a career playoff record of 137-75 and owns more playoff wins than any coach in NBA history. Assuming the NBA settles its labor dispute, Riley would face the Knicks for the first time on Dec. 19 when the Heat visits Madison Square Garden. The Knicks named Don Nelson as their new head coach July 6.