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Pat Riley, the "made in Italy" style icon of the NBA Finals

From his friendship with Giorgio Armani to his 17th Finals

Pat Riley, the made in Italy style icon of the NBA Finals From his friendship with Giorgio Armani to his 17th Finals

Of all the characters in the 2020 NBA Finals, the one that stands out the most is Pat Riley, executive of the South Beach franchise. Having participated as a player, manager and president in 6 different decades in the finals with the Knicks, Lakers and Heat makes the Miami president a living legend with 8 rings on the board. Her relationship with victory is obsessive in the same measure with which she chooses her clothes, always elegant and definitely out of the box compared to the rest: to the wide knots of her colleagues' very long ties, Riley responded with a small, tight knot and a very more European; to the "oversized" jackets, the coach of Magic and Kareem at the time of Showtime contrasts tailored and often tight-fitting suits.

The point of connection with fashion has a name and a surname: Giorgio Armani. The reference year is 1982, historic for both the then Lakers coach and the Italian designer: the first will put his first coaching title on the board, the second will appear on the cover of TIME exactly 25 years after Christian Dior, first name of the fashion industry to end up on the cover of the American magazine. The careers of Riley and Armani will go hand in hand: great sports feats on the one hand, great results on the catwalk on the other, with Jodie Foster and Michelle Pfeiffer becoming the first Hollywood actresses to walk the Oscar red carpet with dresses made ad hoc. Pat Riley has become for everyone "The Godfather" thanks to a gangster look that is linked to Italy in the American collective imagination: elegant dress, back-curled hair and always ready grin.

Speaking of cinema, when the gangster look definitely becomes cool - especially thanks to Tony Montana - Riley is often compared to Gordon Gekko, character from the film "Wall Street" beautifully played by Michael Douglas who personifies the classic example of hateful successful businessman. As often happens in the film industry, the legends about the source of inspiration of Oliver Stone (creator of both Montana and Gekko) are many: there are those who claim that the director/screenwriter took inspiration from Riley's style.

From basketball to Hollywood pop culture of the 80s and 90s in an instant. The aesthetic upgrade of the man born in '57 in Rome, NY, is linked to the products of Giorgio Armani, who in the meantime has become his friend. John Potvin in the book "Giorgio Armani: Empire of the senses" summarizes the relationship between the two as follows:

"While no man has taken on the privileged role of Armani paid ambassador, Pat Riley has become the brand's first testimonial. His relationship with Armani was not simply one of respect but of true friendship and admiration. Regardless of the friendship, reports indicate that Riley and his wife Chris receive Giorgio Armani designer clothes worth $ 125,000 (retail) per year. 80% of Riley's wardrobe is full of items from the Italian designer's collections. No other man has benefited from such an explicitly commercial and enduring relationship as Riley."

Riley's aesthetic is linked to Italy, to an Italian brand - everything she wears comes strictly from Italian production plants and not from Miami boutiques - and to the taste that over the years has differentiated him from the style of his colleagues on the bench and behind a desk. A sharp snapshot of the NBA aesthetic of the '80s and' 90s arrives last May, when "The Last Dance" showed the world unprecedented insights into the world of American fashion, made up of high-waisted trousers and long suits, of brightly colored ties and suits that reflect the personality of eclectic sports stars. Riley's idea, on the other hand, has always been different: a Hollywood man who went out on the court with bespoke Bally shoes, finely matched Armani suits and elements that made him almost an alien considering the stylistic context in which he moved.

His Miami Heat show up at the NBA Finals for the seventh time in the history of the franchise and Pat will have to deal with his past: the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James and the years in which he launched Italian fashion in the USA. Always with the same Italian style, with a sprinkling of South Beach charm and with the same ambition for the victory of 50 years ago.