Mike Francesa
Cindy Ord | Getty Images for SiriusXM

Mike Francesa has been watching HBO’s “Winning Time,” and he has a few gripes about the series’ depiction of Pat Riley.

“He is depicted as the biggest schlub in the world,” Francesa said on his latest BetRivers podcast. “And I’m saying, ‘This is Pat Riley!’ I would love to sit with the Pat Riley I know, and I can’t even imagine. He must be burning watching this thing. He must be going crazy.

“I would think Pat Riley, if he was in the room with the guy who made this, he would beat him up. He’d beat the heck out of him. It’s unbelievable. I know Pat Riley well enough that Pat Riley would want to fight somebody over this thing. They make Riley out to be so bad, it’s unbelievable.”

Francesa and Riley were very tight when Riley was coaching the Knicks. They had a falling-out when Riley bolted for the Heat and Francesa and Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo torched him on WFAN for it. They have since hashed out what happened, although Francesa has indicated in past interviews the relationship has never been the same. But it is notable that Francesa would be so candid while panning Adrien Brody’s spin on Riley, who (so far) has been played as a hapless former Laker struggling to find his place in the world post-retirement.

Francesa also opined the show “makes Jerry West out to be a mental case,” which meshes with the most frequent criticism of the show — that its depiction of West as a hard-drinking loose cannon is wildly askew of reality. Francesa also adds that, “Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) is not too happy either, I’m sure.”


“This thing is brutal,” Francesa said. “I mean, it is brutal, I’m telling you. It is brutal on what it does to players, and the things they say. It is unbelievable. … It’s so campy, it’s hilarious.”

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.