Inspiration & Sports

Book I’m Reading: Pat Riley’s The Winner Within

I love reading books—be it novels, especially those of John Grisham’s and Fran Peretti’s masterpieces or inspirational books, leadership or sports-related books.

Currently, I’m reading a book by Pat Riley, one of the few multi-titled NBA coaches. 


My co-pastor Bong Navarro lent me Riley’s book, The Winner Within—a Life Plan for Team Players.

Find it very interesting, not just because I’m a sports fan and a sports lover, but also because of the decades of coaching and even corporate experience Riley had in the sports industry.

I just finished the first chapter of the book, which talks about the Innocent Climb, a term he coined to describe a team’s ability to come together even in the midst of adversity. And this ability happens even though the team lacks any achievement or accomplishment.

Though written and published in 1994, Riley’s book aims to reveal the importance of recognizing team changes while adjusting into it and making the most of every opportunity.

pat riley

Riley's fierce competitive spirit and passion to transform mediocre teams into greatness differentiates him from other coaches in the NBA.


I think the most recent success he had ever accomplished in the confines of teamwork happened while he served as general manager, head coach and currently, as president of the Miami Heat.

The Heat, an expansion team during the 1988 season, were a mediocre team prior to Riley’s arrival. But by the time he joined the team in 1995 after a brief coaching stint with the New York Knicks, the Heat began to blossom from one of the favorite whipping teams to a feared playoff team.

Riley’s fierce competitive spirit and value for team play rubbed off into the team. He then, made sure the nucleus of the team be built up strong as evident in Miami’s acquisition of Alonzo Mourning from the Charlotte Hornets in the mid-1990s.

Mourning and Tim Hardaway, the point and shooting guard, formed the Heat’s cornerstone in leading the franchise to division titles from 1997-2000.

The Heat, then suffered major sub performances during the 2001 season, till the arrival of Dwyane Wade in 2003.

But in three years time, after carefully rebuilding the team through the core of Wade and executing a stunning off-season recruitment that brought in superstar center 

Shaquille O’Neal entering the 2005 season, the Heat managed to barge into the NBA Finals for the first time in 2006, facing the Dallas Mavericks.

Riley guided the Heat through adversity. Miami dropped the first two games against Dallas, but the Heat refused to give up, riding on the inspired plays of Wade, O’Neal and their bunch of hungry players to collar the franchise’s first-ever NBA championship.

Adversity, oftentimes, it makes life uncomfortable. But it will always be there, whether you’re a student, a single professional or a parent.

However, you and I have a choice to make each time adversity stares down our face.The great thing about life is, you don’t have to face your adversity alone. God promised in His word to never leave you nor forsake you.


One Response to “Book I’m Reading: Pat Riley’s The Winner Within”

  1. great insight

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