It has been said that LeBron James has never had a great coach on multiple occasions. Do these people know who Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is?
Let’s take a trip in the a little bit back machine, the year was 2017. It was on an episode of the HoopsHype podcast, where FS1 NBA reporter and personality Chris Broussard essentially said that LeBron James had never played for a great coach, well he did say it actually. This probably didn’t sit well with Miami Heat Nation at the time.
The one thing that’s unfortunate when it comes to LeBron’s career is [he hasn’t had a great coach]. I think that hurts him in the G.O.A.T. conversation and I’m on record as saying he’s the second-best player of all-time behind Michael Jordan. But if you look at a lot of the greats, the one thing they have in common is they had a great coach. Jordan played for Phil Jackson. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson had Pat Riley. Tim Duncan had Gregg Popovich. Kobe Bryant has Phil Jackson. LeBron – with all due respect to Erik Spoelstra, Ty Lue and Mike Brown, who are all good coaches – has never had that iconic coach, that legendary coach who could’ve fully coached him and [gotten the most out of him]. LeBron has been in some situations where he’s been able to do whatever he wants.
Fast forward to the current day in 2019, and it is all the rage again. In another example, former NBA player, current NBA announcer, and radio host Eddie A. Johnson is the latest member to hop aboard that train. Here is one of his latest tweets.
With this information in mind, just a few of the actual quotes from NBA influencers that share this same sentiment, have they never heard of Coach Erik Spoelstra? The real question though, is why is Spo so underrated or better yet underappreciated?
It has to be a Miami Heat bias or a disdain for Pat Riley, as they could be the only logical reasons. All jokes aside however, this is a serious question?
If you take a look at what Spo has done, he’s coached the Miami Heat in a franchise leading 886 games. In these almost 900 games that he’s coached, he has a record of 523-363. Save for Stan Van Gundy, who coached the Miami Heat in about 700 fewer games than Coach Spoelstra, he has the highest winning percentage of any other coach as well at .590.
Looking at individual seasons, it is very impressive that he was able to manage the personalities of the Big 3 era in route to back to back titles. What’s even more impressive is that in the season after Pat Riley’s last season as the head coach of the Miami Heat, a season in which the Heat had a record of 15-67, a rookie coach in Spoelstra was able to guide the team to the playoffs with a record of 43-39.
This turnaround would have been impressive for any coach after such a season but was made even more so by the fact that this was his first year as the head man. Even looking outside of the four straight NBA finals appearances with the Big 3, what he has accomplished with much lesser teams and talent is extremely impressive in it’s own right.
In 11 seasons as the head coach, Spoelstra has taken his team to the playoffs in eight of those seasons, and two of those missed seasons were the only times he’s finished with a less than .500 record. It sounds pretty impressive, accomplished, and Hall of Fame like to me.
All in all, somebody needs to fact check and educate these pundits. The man not only has a good overall record, two titles albeit with the Big 3, but he has also severely outcoached his talent throughout the most of his career.
If he isn’t a hall of famer or great coach, then point one out, because there must be some confusion in this direction. If Spoelstra hadn’t been hand-picked and groomed by the great Pat Riley for this job, then he would be more appreciated, while pundits would line up to sing his praises. There has to be some hateration going on in this dancery, to quote the great Mary J. Blige, because Erik Spoelstra still doesn’t get the credit he deserves.