They had the best record in the Eastern Conference, and many believed an easy path to the Finals. But that didn't stop the Cleveland Cavaliers from firing their head coach David Blatt after halfway through his second season with the team. A surprise move around the league and even the locker room, but not uncommon in the NBA.
You may very well know this already, but Erik Spoelstra is the second longest tenured NBA coach with his current team behind San Antonio's Gregg Popovich.
That's got to speak something to trust and value the Miami Heat organization place in him. Spoelstra was hired in April of 2008. Rick Carlisle joins those two as the only current head coaches with their teams before 2011. Every other NBA team has had a new coach in the last 5 years.
So...why does Erik Spoelstra still have his job?
If you read Hot Hot Hoops much, especially the comments, you've probably seen over and over again people calling for him to be fired. SpoBot has become a name for the scripted plays, offense and even his verbiage after games. But he has to be doing something right.
Certainly 2/4 in the NBA Finals with LeBron James isn't going to just create job security for years to come. So...what is it about Spo that keeps him in Miami?
I think the first reason is that he was hand picked, groomed, and trained by Pat Riley, the Heat President. There is a level of connection there that is above just hiring somebody. Riley has seen Spoelstra grow from the video boy to a scout, assistant and then a head coach.
He's a Riley prodigy. He had the Riley way. He does it Riley's way. And as long as Riley is in charge, that's important. Spoelstra has some job security because he's been consistent in the highs and the lows. Spo cleaned up the mess Riley left when he stepped off the bench and turned it into a playoff team that was exciting. He's managed the criticism well and handed the success off to his players.
And for all it is worth, Spo may get a hard comment section from the fans, but he's respected like few are around the NBA. Spoelstra is known for his great defensive game plans that can make any game close. He can and has made real adjustments that have changed playoff series. He's credited to winning a NBA championship going small with Chris Bosh and Shane Battier has your power rotation.
He's been there, made big moves and done big things.
He doesn't have a free pass., He's going to need to continue to win. But he can't be judged if he doesn't have a healthy roster, and that's what the Heat are dealing with right now.
Heat fans should be thankful that Pat Riley doesn't have a quick firing trigger and he does sometimes with a trade trigger. The consistency and expectation that is present from the head coach is important. And it remains clear that Miami is a family first organization.
Want another reason Spo has his job? He has a 62% win percentage as a coach (351-207). That's pretty good. There's only 4 others coaches with a better percentage with their current team.
With all this said...don't let go of the rope.
Please....leave a comment with your favorite spoism.