Jerry West says he’s never seen a better coach than Erik Spoelstra

3 Min Read

Jerry West has been around the NBA for more than 60 years, and the basketball legend said he’s never seen a coach as good as Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat.

“You mentioned Erik Spoelstra — I’ve never seen a better coach than him,” West said. “I have not. And he’s just an unbelievable coach. He and Pat [Riley], I think they have a good working relationship there. And he can take players that are pretty good — he always has a couple of good players, okay, really good players — but they have a system there, and they believe in it. And watching him coach games, he lets things roll off his shoulder.”

Spoelstra added to his likely Hall of Fame resume last season when he guided the Heat to an unexpected appearance in the NBA Finals against the Denver Nuggets. Though the Heat came up short with a five-game series loss, it further stamped Spoelstra among the NBA’s best.

The 52-year-old has been the Heat’s head coach since the 2008-09 campaign and in that time has won two NBA championships and reached the Finals four other times. His 704 regular season wins rank 20th in NBA history, and he is certainly young enough to keep climbing that list.

Sticking around could also prove to be very lucrative for Spoelstra, whose market value reportedly could be in the neighborhood of $20 million per season. That could conceivably go up even further with another NBA title, and Miami is doing all it can to give itself the best chance by doggedly pursuing a trade for Damian Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers this offseason.

Some NBA agents and executives reportedly believe it’s only a matter of time before the 32-year-old is added to join Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, which would give Spoelstra another Big 3 to coach following his earlier success with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Spoelstra took over for Riley to become Miami’s head coach, with Riley, who ranks fifth on the aforementioned wins list, remaining as Miami’s top executive. Riley was closely aligned with West during time spent together with the Los Angeles Lakers, where Riley was head coach from 1981 to 1990 and won four NBA titles. Today, West remains a consultant for the Los Angeles Clippers.

West, now 85 years old, was a legendary Hall of Fame player and two-time NBA Executive of the Year, so he has seen more basketball than maybe anyone still associated with the league. For him to speak of Spoelstra in this manner is truly high praise.

Share This Article
Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. His introduction to the business included the legendary Heat-Knicks rivalry from the 1990s.