The Heat, loaded with postseason veterans, gear up for another season in the playoff sun

Who owns the record for most postseason victories by a head coach? For many years, it was Red Auerbach, who won 99 playoff games in an era with only two rounds of postseason play. He was surpassed by Pat Riley in 1990. Riley won 102 postseason games in his nine seasons with the Lakers. Riles won 35 more in four seasons with the Knicks. He would add a few more in his years in Miami.

Even after six championships with the Chicago Bulls, Phil Jackson had 111 playoff wins, well behind Rileyís 149 following the 1999 season. It wasnít until June 12, 2002 that Jackson passed Riley with his 156th postseason victory. That same night, Shaquille OíNealís 34 points, 10 rebounds and four assists capped a sweep of the Nets and gave Jackson something more important -- his ninth NBA championship.

Jackson would add 19 additional playoff victories, and going into this season led Riley 175-155. It seemed like an unbreakable record, especially considering Jackson re-entered the coaching ranks this season after a one year hiatus.

Following Jackson and Riley are the following: Larry Brown (100 wins), Jerry Sloan (78), Gregg Popovich (69), Rick Adelman (68), and George Karl (60). For Popovich to challenge Jackson and Riley, he would have to put together a decade like Riles had in the Ď80s or Jackson had in the Ď90s. Thatís a tall order for the 57-year-old Spurs coach, who won 69 games in his first nine seasons in the postseason.

But just when you thought that Jacksonís record for postseason victories would last longer than DiMaggioís hit streak, Pat Riley returned as head coach of the Heat.

And this time, Riley, rather than Jackson, has Shaquille OíNeal on his side.

If the Heat (who won 11 playoff games last year and four more so far this season) win the NBA championship, then Riley will edge dangerously close to Jacksonís record.

Itís something to watch for.

Speaking of Shaquille OíNeal and playoff victories, does anyone realize that Shaq has won 75 postseason games in the last six years? Those 75 wins have been good for 18 postseason series victories. Only a handful of players -- all of whom played for Riley with the Lakers in the mid-80s -- have surpassed.

Bill Russell -- considered the greatest winner in team sports history -- won 27 playoff series in his 13-year career, but never won more than 55 games in a six year stretch; his 55 wins game from 1964 to 1969. In his first 14 seasons, Shaq has won the same amount of playoff series, and could win more depending on how the Heat fare the rest of the way in this year's postseason (Miami's win last night over the Bulls gave Shaq yet another playoff series victory).

Michael Jordan won 68 playoff games and 17 series in the six years before his first retirement (1988-1993). Beginning in 1993, Jordan also won 17 playoff series in six years. Scottie Pippen, because he played (and won a first-round series) in 1994, had 18 in the same six-year period.

Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish never won more than 17 playoff series over a six-year stretch.

Hereís the most NBA playoff series won in a consecutive six-year period:

Player Years Series Wins
Magic Johnson 1984-1989 20
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1984-1989 20
Michael Cooper 1984-1989 20
Byron Scott 1984-1989 20
James Worthy 1984-1989 20
Scottie Pippen 1993-1998 18
Robert Horry 2000-2005 18
Steve Kerr 1996-2001 18

If Shaq plays three more playoff game in 2006, he will tie Dennis Johnson with 180 postseason games played -- 10th most all-time. If the Heat advance to the Finals, they would probably play at least 23 postseason games. Shaquille (if he stays healthy) would then trail only Abdul-Jabbar (237 games), Scottie Pippen (208) and Robert Horry (198).

There's another man on the Miami Heat bench who holds an NBA postseason scoring record that may never be broken. And itís not Shaq, Alonzo Mourning or Gary Payton. Itís assistant coach Bob McAdoo.

McAdoo holds the NBA postseason record for most points in a two-game playoff series. He scored 68 points for New York against Cleveland in 1978.

Although Payton will most probably never come close to McAdoo's mark, he does have a place on another exclusive list. Only three active players have more postseason points than Payton's 2,022: Shaq, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan. If the Heat advance a couple rounds this season, Payton should pass Kevin Johnson, Tom Heinsohn, Moses Malone, Jeff Hornacek and George Mikan on the all-time list. That's pretty good company for The Glove.

There's no telling where the Playoff road will lead this year's Miami Heat, but with Riley and Shaq, and a supporting cast of playoff veterans (not to mention Dwyane Wade, one of the best young players in the game), history seems to be on Miami's side.