MIAMI - Pat Riley resigned as coach of the Miami Heat less than a week before the start of the NBA season, opting Friday to try to rebuild the team from the front office only.
Riley ranks second in NBA history with 1,110 victories, and he led the Los Angeles Lakers to four championships in the 1980s.
But the Heat missed the playoffs the past two years, finishing at the bottom of the Atlantic Division at 25-57 last season - Riley's worst record in 21 years as an NBA head coach.
"There was no way I could go upstairs until I thought this thing was on solid ground," Riley said. "It's time for another voice. I strongly believe that."
While he stays on as team president, Riley will be replaced as coach by Stan Van Gundy, his top assistant the past several seasons and the younger brother of Houston Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy. They're just the second set of brothers to coach in the NBA; Herb and Larry Brown did so in the 1970s.
"I still at this point have not told my kids, my parents. I haven't told my brother, because I was still sort of half-expecting he would change his mind," Stan Van Gundy said. "He had mentioned it to me on Wednesday. I didn't even tell my wife. ...
"It came as very much a surprise."
The Heat's first game is Tuesday at Philadelphia; players were told of Riley's decision Friday.
"The transition for the players will be a little difficult," Van Gundy said. "It will be different."
Riley said he made the decision at 5 a.m. Wednesday after convincing himself that the rebuilding process was advanced enough.
"I've been looking forward to the day that I could run an organization without the pressures of having to coach, too," Riley said. "As a matter of fact, this summer I probably spent most of my time, all of my time, managing and not coaching. So it's time. It's time for that move. And I knew I'd get to it eventually."
Riley, 58, was voted one of the top 10 coaches in NBA history in 1996.
His 21 seasons running NBA teams include from 1981-90 with the Lakers, 1991-95 with the New York Knicks and 1995-03 with Miami. He was the NBA's Coach of the Year in 1990, 1993 and 1997.
Riley led the "Showtime" Lakers of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the 1982, 1985 and 1987-88 league titles. With the Knicks, he had more of a defense-oriented, bruising team that lost to Houston in the 1994 NBA Finals.
With the Heat, though, Riley never duplicated that sort of success. His Miami teams lost in the first round of the playoffs four times, and only made it as far as the Eastern Conference finals once, losing to Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls in 1997.