One is an iconic action film actor and the other is a legendary basketball coach. One cut his teeth in movies like “Rocky” and “Rambo,” while the other led the Showtime Lakers to four NBA Championships. Pat Riley and Sylvester Stallone are pretty different guys, but they both have one thing in common: They peaked in the ’80s and have no business doing what they do in this day and age.

Now I’m as big a Sly fan as the next guy, but the steroids along with the back-to-back over-the-top sequels that featured way too much shirtless, old-man ‘roid muscle prove he should move behind the camera for good. I could go for another 500 words about Stallone and his interesting political views, but this is a sports column, so I’ll stick to Riley.

Pat Riley is a Hall of Fame coach and has been to the playoffs more times than I’ve had birthdays, but his recent actions as coach and team president of the abysmal Miami Heat have shown that Riley is not the decision maker he once was. It seems that he has lost his love for the game that fueled much of his success.

As team president and main decision maker for the Heat, Riley has put together one of the worst rosters in recent memory. The Heat aren’t just bad. They are also full of so many lazy, injury-prone and selfish players that they make the Knicks look as cohesive as the Toons Team when Jordan and Bugs upset the Monstars.

Since 2006 Riley has made a series of personnel blunders. In the 2006 off-season, Riley made his team far too old with the additions of the approaching-40 Gary Payton and 36-year-old Eddie Jones. 2007 wasn’t much better with Smush Parker and Ricky Davis as the major additions. Parker and Davis are both high shots – low-assist guards who just took touches away from Dwayne Wade and did little to improve the character and winning attitude of the squad. Parker has been inactive since allegedly beating a female valet over 12 dollars and Davis’s teams have averaged just 32 wins in his nine full NBA seasons. Riley has made several other personnel moves that will hurt the team’s long-term future, but you all may get bored reading about just how screwed up this franchise really is.

any have criticized Riley for usurping the Heat in 2006 from then coach Stan Van Gundy, but at least his desire to coach the Heat (strong enough to mistreat and displace a promising coach and pupil in Van Gundy) showed a competitive spirit and passion for the game. Since 2006, when Riley rode Van Gundy’s coattails and watched as Dwayne Wade averaged a transcendent 39 points in the Heat’s four Finals wins, Riley seems to have become more and more detached from his team.

When the Heat started at 13-17 in the 2006-2007 season, Riley took a leave of absence to have surgery on his hip and knee. At best, Riley had questionable timing for such a leave of absence, and at worst, Riley was gauging whether or not this losing team was worth sticking around for. Again this season, Riley has decided to take a leave to evaluate college prospects, and there is no doubt in my mind that he is simply tired of coaching these losers.

When he’s not leaving his players, Riley sounds like a coach with little affection for or interest in his team. Riley criticized Shaq before trading him and he acknowledged that many of his players were unhappy. Recently, Riley went off on his team after a loss saying, “Just a lack of effort and a horrible attitude, the attitude they showed, I should write a check to each season-ticket holder.” Maybe he should, because last I checked, the coach is responsible for creating a positive attitude and motivating his players. If Riley has recognized this problem all season and the situation hasn’t improved, what does that say about his coaching ability?

The truth is, the Heat’s attitude and performance is less an indicator of Riley’s coaching abilities than an indictment of his interest in teaching and guiding anything but a championship-caliber team. With Wade’s future health in question and the current state of the roster, Miami is years away from having another championship-caliber team.

What Miami needs is a young, motivated coach (see Avery Johnson’s impact on the Dallas Mavericks in 2005) to turn the team around. If Riley wants to stay on as president and sign a few more geezers, that’s up to him, but this all-time great has lost the passion and patience to coach this group of unlovable losers on a daily basis. Riley needs to make this leave of absence permanent, or at least raid Sly’s medicine cabinet and get geared up for 2008.

Jamie Leader is a junior in the College. He can be reached at leaderthehoya.com FOLLOW THE LEADER appears every other Friday in HOYA SPORTS.

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