Game 5 NBA Finals 2012: Erik Spoelstra Needs to Win More Than LeBron James

David DanielsSenior Writer IJune 21, 2012

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JUNE 12:  Head coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat answers questions after the Oklahoma City Thunder defeat the Heat 105-94 in Game One of the 2012 NBA Finals at Chesapeake Energy Arena on June 12, 2012 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Erik Spoelstra’s career hangs in the balance.

What a triumph in the 2012 NBA Finals would do for LeBron James’ legacy can’t possibly be understated. But as much as LeBron needs a ring, Spoelstra is even more desperate for one.

According to J.A. Adande of ESPN, Chris Bosh talked after Game 4 about how the Miami Heat must maintain their focus to successfully close out the series. He said:

"I'm sure Spo has said it 100,000 times, is staying in the moment. That's what you always have to do. You have to stay in the moment, put everything in the past behind you, don't worry about the future."

But what fun is that? If you look to the future, Spoelstra’s career in Miami will take two drastically different turns depending on how the Finals conclude.

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 19:  Head coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat walks up court against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Four of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 19, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. The Heat won 104-98. NOTE TO USER: User e
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

If the Heat defeat the Thunder in Game 5, the hot seat Spoelstra’s been sitting on since the Big Three joined forces in South Beach would cool off for good. Not only would his job finally be secured, but his credibility as a head coach would sky rocket. Miami isn’t up 3-1 on the Thunder because of talent alone—Spoelstra is outcoaching Scott Brooks.

Now, if the Heat were to choke away Game 5 and allow the Oklahoma City Thunder to storm back and steal the series, Spoelstra would be done. Pat Riley would fire him on the spot.

Spoelstra entered the series with his job on the line and allowing the biggest collapse in Finals history would be his last gaffe.

And that’s why he has so much more riding on the championship than LeBron. If the Heat somehow lose, James’ job isn’t in danger. He’ll simply go into a depression for a few weeks and lace 'em up again next year for another title run.

Spoelstra, on the other hand, will be looking for work.


David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.