April 25th, 2013
So let’s say the Miami Heat win the next couple of NBA titles–not a lock or anything, but not-small possibility.
Head coach Erik Spoelstra will then have won three titles in row and championships in half of his first six seasons as a head coach in the NBA. By the numbers, you’d have to regard him as one of the all-time greats, no?
He’ll be up there with Phil and Lenny, Pop and Slick Rick.
It’ll be kind of insane, of course. But hey, what are you going to do–just be a h8r? Championships.
Exit Question: How long is it until ESPN the Magazine or SI or someone else starts pushing the “Is Coach Spo going to Springfield?” line?
Spoelstra is a superb coach, for sure: managing superstars like Lebron and D. Wade is a lot harder than it looks. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, o.k.? Spoelstra’s accomplishments are inevitably going to be downgraded by virtue of having the best basketball player in the world on his side, with another (Wade) surely in the top 10 or 15. Phil Jackson is considered great not merely because he won multiple titles (again, in Chicago, he had the best player in the world at the time, and a sidekick – Scotty Pippen – who didn’t rank lower than where D. Wade is right now), but because he did it with two different teams. Granted, he had superstar talent in L.A. too, but he showed that his way works, whether in Chicago or Los Angeles. As for Popovich, he’s built an intricate watch with three key pieces, and a lot of smaller, virtually interchangeable ones. It’s kept ticking for more than a decade now, and San Antonio’s consistent excellence speaks volumes for Pop’s approach.
The test for Spoelstra will be whether he can keep Miami on top if and when one or more of the Heat’s “three key pieces” leaves, whether by retirement (can’t imagine Wade in another uniform, unless maybe it’s his hometown Bulls) or through free agency (the Cavs fans who imagine a reunion are kidding themselves, but really, who knows anything?). Forget what ESPN says: its website exists almost solely to promote its television broadcasts, so it has a natural interest to want to boost everything, and everyone, to ALL-TIME-GREAT levels.
(P.S.: Miami’s road to a second straight title just got a tad easier with the news that OKC point guard Russell Westbrook will be having knee surgery, and is out for the rest of the playoffs. Will the finals be Heat-Spurs, a/k/a Pop’s Last Roundup?)
No, it just makes him the NBA’s George Seifert. A good coach, but not necessarily a great one just because of that percentage.