Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra and the team agreed to a contract extension before training camp began and it was the right move. Spoelstra has been the head coach for Miami for 5 seasons now, and has reached the NBA Finals in three of those years, winning 2 championship rings. That is a pretty good résumé by anyone's standards, and Spo has definitely proved he is worthy of an extension.
Although almost everything has gone right for the Miami Heat these past two seasons, with almost none of the credit has gone to the head coach. Instead, a large majority of the credit has gone to you-know-who. Take a wild guess at who I am talking about.
The Miami Heat beat the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 to win the NBA Finals, clinching back-to-back championships. LeBron James has won back-to-back NBA Finals MVP’s and regular season MVP’s. He carried the Heat all year long and was deserving of the award. Chris Bosh got a season-saving rebound in Game 6, which led to Ray Allen’s ever-so-clutch three-pointer that tied the game, and Bosh also blocked Danny Green‘s last-second attempt to tie the game in OT.
James, Dwyane Wade, Bosh and Allen get almost all of the credit, and deservingly so, but there is someone who isn’t getting enough credit: Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra.
Once James and Bosh came to town, people said Spoelstra wasn’t the right man for the job and the Heat could find somebody better, like team president Pat Riley. Fans wanted Riley to step down from his position and take over as head coaching. Riley didn’t listen, he believed in Spoelstra, he said he’s the right man for the job, and he stuck with Spo.
Later in the season, the Heat reached the NBA Finals, only to lose to the Dallas Mavericks. After this, a lot more people wanted Spoelstra gone, but Riley still believed in Spoelstra.
The next year, they were in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. The Heat lost Game 5 at home with the series tied, which gave the Celtics a 3-2 series lead. Everything looked bleak for Miami. A lot of people said it was over and that the Heat stood no chance in Game 6 on the road. If the Heat would’ve been eliminated, it was pretty safe to say Spoelstra would’ve been fired. Everyone would’ve been criticizing Riley for believing and sticking with Spo for so long.
That didn’t happen. The Heat have won back-to-back championships, and Spoelstra isn’t getting much credit at all. James deserves a lot of it, but let’s give Spoelstra some love for what he’s done. Coaching in the NBA isn’t easy, just look at how many open jobs there are each year with coaches getting fired left and right.
"I know how tough it is to win in this league, there's so many things going on behind the scenes," Spoelstra said at Media Day on Monday, essentially confirming the extension. "You want to work with people that you trust...that have your back. Not just after you win but also after times like 9-8 two years ago. You want to have people that you can trust that are in the trenches with you. And we've been through virtually everything you could possibly be together."
Some people criticize Spoelstra with this statement: "He has LeBron, Wade, and Bosh, of course he’s going to win, he doesn’t deserve any credit." Okay, if that’s what you truly believe, then Phil Jackson doesn’t deserve any credit either. Yes he has 11 rings, but he had Michael Jordan, he had Kobe Bryant and Shaq, of course he’s going to win, he doesn’t deserve any credit, right?
There’s never been a great head coach who won multiple rings and didn’t have great players. Ultimately, that’s all that matters: if you don’t have good players, you aren’t going to win; it doesn’t matter who the coach is. But you do have to have a good coach, Doc Rivers is an example. The Los Angeles Clippers traded for him, giving up a first-round draft pick in order to sign Rivers. They could have just signed a coach who was without a job, but instead, they traded for Rivers, who’s a great coach.
I’m not saying Spoelstra is the next Jackson or even Rivers. Spo has one of the toughest jobs in sports, he’s ultimately in a no-win situation. If the Heat win, LeBron gets all the credit, when the Heat lose though, Spoelstra receives criticism along with LeBron. Let’s just start giving Spoelstra some more credit for the Heat’s success; he has done a good job weathering the storms for the Heat, and Riley’s decision to stick with Spoelstra has been validated, and is well deserving of a contract extension.