Gilbert Arenas: ‘[Erik Spoelstra] can say he’s the best coach in the NBA’

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Erik Spoelstra recently landed one of the most lucrative contracts for a head coach in NBA history, and Gilbert Arenas said the Miami Heat leader can also be considered the best coach in the league.

“He does the most with the least amount of talent,” Arenas said. “So if we’re gonna go off of coaching ability, then at this moment in time, he can say he is the best coach in the NBA.”

Asked to repeat that assessment, Arenas did not back down.

“He can say he’s the best coach in the NBA,” Arenas said. “Right now, yes.”

It was reported this week that Spoelstra has agreed to an eight-year contract extension worth $120 million.

The 53-year-old has won two NBA championships as head coach of the Heat and has led them to six appearances in the NBA Finals, most recently last season. He is in his 16th season after replacing Pat Riley prior to the 2008-09 campaign.

The new contract brought messages from former Heat players Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. It also drew some other reactions directed toward his ex-wife for getting divorced before the big payday.

Spoelstra has maintained the vaunted Heat culture as the franchise continues a long run of success. They have failed to make the playoffs just three times during his tenure.

Miami is often credited with getting the most out of its players under Spoelstra, an idea highlighted by reaching the Finals last season as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Heat upset the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics along the way before losing to the Denver Nuggets in the championship round.

Their resilience and attitude have been evident again this season. The Heat have overcome a long list of injuries to fashion a 21-16 record that has them back in playoff contention with sights on another NBA championship.

As an example of his reputation, the head coach not making excuses for the injury issues was praised recently by current star Bam Adebayo.

“Spo is never going to lower himself to blame guys being out on why he’s not winning,” Adebayo said. “That’s just not Spo. You got 15 guys on the roster for a reason and I feel like Spo tries to maximize all 15 guys.”

The Heat played again without star Jimmy Butler in a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. The 34-year-old has been sidelined recently by an injured toe.

Miami has lost four of its past six games heading into its matchup Friday against the Orlando Magic. Based on past performance, there should be no doubt that the Heat will be able to end this short slump and turn things around quickly under its talented head coach.

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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.