In his third year as an NBA head coach, 39-year-old, Erik Spoelstra has been blessed with every head coach’s dream, three superstars on one team. The offseason signings of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade to the Miami Heat, gave Spoelstra an instant Championship contender.
In the last year of his contract, Spoelstra has received the backing of NBA legend and Heat President, Pat Riley, along with the “big three” of James, Wade and Bosh. Spending the last 15 seasons with the Heat moving through the ranks, beginning his career as a video coordinator to assistant coach to his current role, it was only fitting that the Heat organization, which preaches loyalty and family, gave Spoelstra their support.
Despite the endorsement, many question Spoelstra’s ability and experience as the coach to lead this team of superstars to the promise land. Juggling the ego’s of three supremely talented prima donna's, will be no easy task.
Consider for a second, the soft-spoken Spoelstra telling LeBron James what to do, doesn’t sound plausible does it. There is a short list of coaches in the league that have that ability, Lakers coach Phil Jackson and the current President of the Heat, Pat Riley, are on the top of that list.
Aside from managing the off-court attention the team will garner, Spoelstra, who is in the final year of his contract, will have to prove naysayers wrong, many of whom have criticized his late game decision making abilities. Given his short, but relatively successful track record with a sub par team, highlighted by Dwayne Wade, Spoelstra won 47 games and a trip to the Eastern Conference playoffs.
However, the Heat have new talent, known as the "Kings of South Beach", and they are all highly motivated to make their own mark in the history books. Thus, one can safely say that anything less than a nail biting loss in the Eastern Conference Finals or a trip to the NBA Finals, if not a Championship, will be considered a failure.
Pressure aside, Coach "Spo", as his players refer to him, is known league wide as a "player’s" coach, with a defensive mindset and a knack for focusing on the details that make teams successful, all of which are vital traits for a coach looking to lead a team to an NBA Championship.
As with any professional sports team, when a team underachieves the first person to go is usually the head coach, which makes you wonder if the Heat falter will Spoelstra be around next year or even in a few months? The true test of his abilities will come in close game situations against the leagues elite teams. Regardless on how well the Heat perform; I have a suspicion that we have not seen the last of Mr. Slick-back Pat Riley behind the Heat bench.
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