Fueled by the news of Frank Vogel being let go by the Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat head coach, Erik Spoelstra, said that the firing was “very disturbing,” and he had a few comments about the state of coaching in the NBA.
First, some of his comments from the Vogel firing:
Erik Spoelstra, empowered to speak freely bc Riley has his back, gives insight on question if coaches get tuned out pic.twitter.com/fBai3FlIWx
— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) May 5, 2016
Let’s just go ahead and get something straight, Spoelstra makes a great point about the teams with great, consistent continuity. When you look at teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls during the Thibodeau era, and even the Pacers with Vogel, they all were consistently relevant and even contenders in the playoffs. Vogel was the unfortunate victim of a team that didn’t know what else to do other than try to start fresh. Spoelstra seemed to feel sort of the same way about it. So much so that he also decided to start talking about the entire state of coaching.
Via CBS Sports:
“I’ve only been the head coach for eight years,” Spoelstra said. “What am I, the second-longest tenured? That’s a sad state of where the coaching profession is right now, and instability of organizations.”
“That’s why it’s fairly easy for me to feel grateful,” Spoelstra said. “I’ve been a part of this organization for 21 years. Same group. When we say it’s a family, we are. We’ve been through everything. We’ve been through 15-win seasons together. We’ve put together teams, rebuilt teams. We know how each other will respond in the trenches when it’s tough. But you have to be able to also have opportunities to grow with a team and go through the tough times. You don’t get an opportunity when you’re making changes all the time. I probably would have been fired two or three times in a different organization.
This is where I have to agree with everything Spoelstra is talking about. This whole topic is something that I’ve heard many, many times in barbershop debates and blacktop chatter. Coaches that can stick with one team for the long-term haul is as rare as finding superstar talent in the second round of the draft. Spoelstra is tied for the second longest tenured coach in the NBA right now behind only Gregg Popovich. Although, it seems like yesterday when he first took over in Miami and no one knew if he was going to be able to coach the “super team.”
Currently, NBA teams seem to go through coaches like a half-off buffet line. The moment that a superstar is unhappy, or the team underperforms in one section of one season, the head coach seems to always get the axe. Situations like Houston where Kevin McHale was fired and then everyone figured out that it was more of a chemistry on the court problem are part of the problem that Spoelstra is talking about. These coaches can bring the best strategies and rotations to the table, but if one guy doesn’t like the other on the court, then it must be the coach’s fault, right?
Very few coaches can come into a franchise and turn them around in one season. The expectations of that situation are almost like the expectations of every number one pick to turn out like LeBron James. If front offices can stop expecting the impossible, then maybe, just maybe, they could find a guy who is a great fit for their long-term success.