Saturday, August 28, 2010

Does Spoelstra Inspire Confidence?

Spoelstra joined the Heat staff in 1995 as the team's video coordinator and within two years was also named an assistant coach. In 1999, his video coordinator tag was shed for the much nicer advanced scout and by 2001 he became director of scouting. His biggest break came in 2005, when he was credited by Sports Illustrated (May 30, 2005) for honing star guard Dwyane Wade’s "shooting balance and smoothing out his release after the Flash’s return from the Athens Olympics."

Riley made him his successor in 2008 saying: "This game is now about younger coaches who are technologically skilled, innovative and bring fresh new ideas. That's what we feel we are getting with Erik Spoelstra. He's a man that was born to coach." Pat Riley also predicted: "A lot of players want the discipline; they will play [hard] for Spoelstra, because they respect him."

Two years into the Erik Spoelstra experience a super team has been created. Riley had hinted heading into the off-season that he would be open to a return to coaching, but ultimately the decision was to give the young up and coming coach the opportunity to become a legend in his own right.

Personally, I have my doubt about this decision. My impression so far is that the man was born to assistant coach. His in game decisions have left a lot to be desired (do not get me started... maybe on another blog) and inspiring a team full of expiring contracts to play hard seems like a function a school counselor could accomplish. As far as respect goes, I think it is obvious when a player looks at you in disgust and bullies you into a substitution, which way it flows. The innovation that Riley spoke of has not been displayed as of yet, instead he has leaned heavily upon "Heat culture". In other words, more of the same.

I would like to see Spoelstra win coaching matchups throughout the season, because coaching will be key against old dogs like the Celtics and Lakers come playoff time. I don't think Riley would hesitate to upgrade the roster, so why do I get the feeling he is hesitant to upgrade the coaching position? Does Riley believe in him that much? I don't think so.

Pat Riley probably feels, like many of us, that he would win the title and is a tad less confident with Spoelstra leading the troops. One possible problem with Riley as coach is that he has quit on Dwyane Wade twice in his first five seasons, which on its own would have ruined the player/coach dynamic to some degree. Riley is allowing the players the freedom to play hard for Spo, but the players know that if they fail to win their way he will take control of the situation.

Riley would coach again if the players begged him, but otherwise I would pay close attention to Doc Rivers and his expiring contract with Boston. He is a coach that commands respect and has played in the NBA, which LeBron admitted is important to him. That is the type of guy I would want in charge of a potential dynasty, but these players are confident they can win regardless of who is sitting on the bench and who am I to argue? Let's hope they are right or else he could be asking them for ideas next June.


  1. I would be very upset if Riley coached this team. With Spo (as bad as he is) we'll still win 3 or 4 of the next 5 titles. With Riley, I don't think Wade, LeBron, or Bosh make it 5 years (they'd all be gone, via forced trades)....and probably without a single title.

    Just say NO to Riley coaching again.

    I'm not for Spo as a coach, but he is a far better answer than bringing Riley out of the moth-balls again.

  2. Joel Anthony will be the biggest suprise this season. Most players once they recieve their big contract, see their play regress. Not Joel. Joel Anthony is the only player on the Heat to get a raise. He wants to prove that the coaching staff didn’t make a mistake. He is egoless, and he knows where he came from. He was undrafted, and the Miami Heat made gave him a chance and turned him into something. For that, Joel is indebted to the Miami Heat for ever. He will leave his blood, sweat, and tears on the floor every night. He will be the starting center for perhaps the greatest team ever built. You think this cat is going to be determined to hold his own, and not let the superstars down or what?

    Go Joel. Breakout Year. Calling it here.

  3. A lot of assumption, but yes, I see Anthony have his best year by a mile this year.