Riley: Mom’s death won’t stop Heat


MIAMI (AP) – Despite dealing with personal anguish, Miami Heat coach Pat Riley reiterated Saturday that he’ll be able to concentrate on what his team needs for the postseason.

Riley ran the Heat’s shootaround on Saturday morning, less than 24 hours after learning that his 96-year-old mother, Mary, had died in his native upstate New York. He was on the sideline later Saturday night when the Heat opened their Eastern Conference first-round series against the Chicago Bulls.

“Yesterday was a blow. There’s no doubt,” Riley said. “But I’m ready to roll. We’re ready to roll. It’s not going to affect me.”

It’s believed that Riley will also coach Monday’s second game of the best-of-seven series, with Game 3 scheduled in Chicago on Thursday night.

The Heat have not announced if Riley will leave the team in the coming days for his mother’s wake and funeral service, which will occur in his native Schenectady, N.Y. area.

“My mother always used to say, and she told me time and again this week, Life goes on, so get on with it,”‘ Riley said. “She couldn’t stop saying that to her children. That’s who she was. And we’re getting on with it.”

Riley missed Miami’s final two regular season games to be with his mother, who lived in a retirement community not far where he was raised.

He was back with the Heat on Thursday night and ran practice Friday, and players have said game planning for the Bulls continued as usual.

“I spent four days in New York with my family, with my mother, and during the process of being there also I was able to do some things,” Riley said. “I was getting ready while I was up there.”

Riley’s players were somewhat emotional after being told of Mary Riley’s death.

“It’s devastating to lose anybody in your family,” said backup Heat center Alonzo Mourning, who missed Saturday’s game because he’s still recovering from a torn calf muscle. “But I don’t know a man who’s not close with his mom.”

And before Saturday’s game, Riley also had difficulty with his emotions.

“When I left, I knew the end was near,” Riley said, his eyes reddening 90 minutes before tip-off. “I didn’t think it was going to be 48 hours. … Anybody who’s been through it, you understand. I’ve got a job to do and I’m going to do it.”

AP-ES-04-22-06 1949EDT