Heat's Pat Riley taking break; pain is problem



The coach said the team's record did not factor into his decision.
MIAMI (AP) -- Pat Riley is taking a break from a season that has left him limping and in pain.
The Miami Heat coach began an indefinite leave of absence Wednesday because of hip and knee problems, choosing assistant Ron Rothstein to fill his spot on an interim basis.
Riley will have surgery Friday to remove floating chips his right knee.
Surgery on his hip, the malady that hurts him most now, is not yet scheduled. The 61-year-old coach doesn't know how long he'll be out.
The situation
"I'm going to be displaced for a while, but not disconnected at all," he said.
Miami took a 13-17 record into Wednesday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Already this season, the Heat have seen Shaquille O'Neal, Dwyane Wade and Jason Williams -- perhaps the three biggest keys in last year's championship run -- miss many games with injuries.
And now it's Riley's turn.
"We have a championship team that is sideways right now, so this is going to be a great challenge," Riley said. "Keep your notebooks open. We'll see how it plays out."
Riley, who also is the Heat president, is in his 12th season with the organization and 10th year as its coach.
He resigned as coach shortly before the 2003-04 season, then returned to the bench in December 2005, replacing Stan Van Gundy and postponing right hip replacement surgery.
In September, Riley said he didn't expect to need the operation this season, but the pain has apparently worsened in recent weeks. He considered surgery during the summer, then simply decided against it.
"I'm just tired of the pain and the medication," Riley said.
Kicking the cause?
Riley was asked if the knee injury, or at its severity, stems in any way from the time last week when he allegedly kicked a locker room door following a loss in Chicago.
"What I do in the locker room really has always been my business," Riley said. "I've broken a lot of objects in my time."
Rothstein was the Heat's first head coach in the 1988-89 season and lasted three years with the expansion franchise, finishing with a 57-189 record.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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