Secret Methods of the NBA's Three Best Coaches
We all know the NBA's best coaches are brilliant basketball instructors and exceptional motivators, but what exactly makes them click?
In addition to the hours of film work, practice sessions and pep talks, there are some unique habits and methods that set these three gurus apart.
Gregg Popovich's discipline, dry humor and detail-oriented in-game approach are widely known, but what about behind the scenes?
How does Erik Spoelstra motivate his collection of stars? What's so special about Tom Thibodeau's methods and lifestyle?
Find out as we unfold the lesser-known tendencies from this elite trio of coaches.
Tom Thibodeau's Hotel Ballroom Walk-Throughs
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Team meetings at hotels are not uncommon for most NBA teams, but Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau takes things to another level.
He's known to hold game-day walkthroughs for his team in hotel ballrooms, and he doesn't skip a session, even in the middle of long, tiring road trips. Seth Gruen of the Chicago Sun-Times explains just how demanding Thibodeau's road trips are:
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is undoubtedly someone rooted in routine, keeping his team on a rigorous schedule that requires them to do walkthroughs in a hotel ballroom on the second day of a back-to-back.
Even if he doesn't do this on every single road trip, it gives you an idea of the kind of intensity and thoroughness the 2011 NBA Coach of the Year brings to the franchise.
Erik Spoelstra Hits the Doughnut Shop— but Not for Doughnuts
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
According to ESPN Miami Heat columnist Brian Windhorst, a trip to the doughnut shop is one of Erik Spoelstra's gameday routines.
But the 2012 NBA champion is not a donut guy. He's more of a breakfast sandwich and Dunkin' Donuts coffee type of guy.
Heaven knows he needs the caffeine:
Spoelstra, 41 years old and single, has at times this season not gone to bed between games. He barely closed his eyes during one three-day stretch in February when the Heat played three games in three nights, all on the road, before he finally crashed on an off-day in Cleveland. It's how he operated when he was a low-level assistant to Riley, pulling all-nighters in the video room or filing scouting reports from the road before catching a 6 a.m. flight to the next town.
Basically, he eats, breathes and sleeps Miami Heat basketball. And drinks coffee.
Gregg Popovich's Key Ingredient Is Wine
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
It's common knowledge to Gregg Popovich followers that he's a wine connoisseur, but I don't think we realized that the beverage impacts the San Antonio Spurs.
In 2012, star point guard Tony Parker jokingly explained to Spurs Nation that it helps Pop's patience:
“As he gets older and drinks more wine, he gets more patient,” Parker said.
All kidding aside, wine has become a pastime for Popovich, and it's a part of what makes him who he is.
If the Spurs win the 2013 NBA title, you can bet wine will be part of his celebration.
Tom Thibodeau Doesn't Go Out. Ever.
Rob Carr/Getty Images
One of Tom Thibodeau's favorite spots for a bite to eat is, well, nowhere.
I'm not saying he spends 24 hours a day in his basement laboratory cooking up basketball schemes, but it's probably not far from the truth.
I've never played for a coach who was that focused. There's nothing else — no kids, no wife, no leisure time to watch TV. I'm dead serious. There's nothing else going on. I've never heard about Thibs being out eating. I never ran into him eating anywhere. No matter what city we're in, I won't see him until the next day. I never been around a coach like him.
That's quite a statement coming from one of the hardest-working players in the NBA.
Sure, this isn't the most exciting and entertaining "secret method" for an NBA coach. But it's impressive that someone as dedicated as Rose notes how basketball-centric Thibodeau's life is. He leads his team by example, creating a culture of focused preparation.
Erik Spoelstra's Post-It Quotes
USA TODAY Sports
Much like his predecessor Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra knows the value of a good motivational quote.
This season, Spoelstra is tasked with motivating his team to not be satisfied with last year's title.
In his behind-the-scenes look at the Miami Heat, ESPN's Brian Windhorst learned that Spoelstra's pregame scouting report handouts for his players aren't your average handouts:
As the Heat players arrive, they find in front of their lockers a brightly colored document that looks more like a brochure for a time-share than a scouting report. On it is a breakdown of each opposing player, with bullet points on his strengths and weaknesses...And on this afternoon, paper-clipped to the top of the Bulls' scouting report, the Heat players find a note: "When two teams meet that are equal in ability and execution, it's the team that has pride that wins."
All coaches have their ways of motivating their teams, and some are more vocal than others. Spoelstra isn't a legendary speech-giver or an outwardly fiery person, so his paper-clipped quotes are an effective way to motivate a star-studded group.
Gregg Popovich Curbs Home-Game Shootarounds
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Aside from the general tendency to rest his veteran stars at odd times, Gregg Popovich also gives his squad a rest from practice— shootarounds the morning before home games, to be exact.
Even when he does hold a morning shootaround, it's usually brief and not too physically taxing. He tries to give them that extra bit of rest that could make the difference in the short and long term.
Popovich knows the pulse of his team, especially the core players and leaders. Every decision he makes is based on their well-being and preparation to succeed through the spring and into the playoffs.
You can't argue with four rings and 15 straight playoff appearances.
For more interactive NBA coverage, follow Daniel on Twitter: