Once or twice per month.
That's how often Erik Spoelstra is introduced to someone as the coach of the Miami Heat, and the other party is confused, unaware that Pat Riley ever relinquished the role.
It even occurred on one of the most memorable days of his life, after President Barack Obama had praised him at the White House for his role in the 2012 championship, and upon Spoelstra's meeting of staffers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
“That doesn’t bum me out at all,” Spoelstra said recently. “I don’t have an ego about it. That’s partly why we’ve been able to work together effectively for so long.”
Spoelstra, who says that his "job is to land the plane," has the Heat flying of late.
Miami has won 16 straight games, has run away with the Eastern Conference race and is in striking distance to chase down San Antonio for the top overall seed.
And if you asked most people for the primary reasons why, it's unlikely that Spoelstra would even be placed in the category of "peripheral contributors."
Isn't it time, however, that Spoelstra gets a little credit?
As ESPN Radio analyst, and former NBA coach, Jack Ramsay put it, "He's coach of the team. You don't have to say any more than that."
While this author doesn't agree with every micro decision—where's Mike Miller lately? Why not tinker with the struggling duo of Ray Allen and Norris Cole?—it's hard to argue with the macro results.
Here are five ways that Spoelstra has put his stamp on the team:
(All quotes for this piece were collected through the course of the author's coverage of the Miami Heat for the Palm Beach Post. All statistics were accurate as of Thursday afternoon.)