Coaching in the NBA isn’t an easy job. Head coaches in this league rarely stay with one team for an extended period of time, but Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat is among the few exceptions.
Spoelstra won two NBA titles with a star-studded roster, endured the post-LeBron James era and built the team back into a winner. Dwyane Wade feels his former head coach doesn’t get enough credit for what he’s done for the Heat.
“He doesn’t get enough credit,” said retired Heat star Dwyane Wade, who played of 10 of his 16 NBA seasons with Spoelstra as his head coach. “But you guys know, Spo don’t care about the credit. He doesn’t care at all. But I mean, you look around the league. I know he’s in Miami and he has been kind of raised through it. But if he was losing and he wasn’t a good coach, he wouldn’t still be there. We know Pat Riley. We know Pat Riley is cutthroat. He would not still be there. So to be able to give him that grace period to kind of learn as a young coach, it was definitely beneficial. But he has taken that and he has run with it.”
With the Heat winning the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics, Spoelstra is two wins away from returning to the NBA Finals for the fifth time in his career. He’s one of the few active coaches who have accomplished that feat with the same team.
“He will not get enough credit for the Big 3 era because people think if you put talent together, you’re just going to win,” Wade said. “That is not true. We had an unbelievable general to lead us to those championships and the success we had, and he’s continuing it. He has shown with multiple teams, with Dion Waiters and James Johnson, that team came and they showed what they could do in that second half of the [2016-17] season. He has shown with multiple teams how great of a coach he is. … He’s a great coach, man. He won’t get the respect from the outside. But from all of us who really know, he got it.”
Although Spoelstra isn’t mentioned in the same breath of Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs, he’s without a doubt one of the best head coaches in the game today. Another trip to the NBA Finals with a chance to win a third title will only pad his legacy as he continues to prove his worth as a potential Hall of Famer.