The Most Hated Coach In The NBA: Erik Spoelstra
Why does everyone hate him so much? Is it because LeBron shoulder checked him and he did nothing, proving to some that he is in fact just a figurehead? Or is it because he is devoid of any basketball pedigree and is in fact a regular human, whereas a coach/GM/legend like Pat Riley seems like a superhero?
I think it’s because of the way Spolestra ascended the Heat organization from the humblest of beginnings to become the coach, making him any easy target because every fan thinks he knows more than a coach in general; let alone one who started with the organization as the team’s video coordinator and got his first NBA head coaching gig at the age of 37. But if anything, I think Spoelstra’s ascension should make him more likeable than a Pat Riley of Phil Jackson type.
Spolestra was the starting point guard for four years at the University of Portland and was actually the conference’s Freshman of The Year, then went on two play two years of professional basketball in Germany.
After his playing career was over, Spoelstra took the now famous “video coordinator” position with the Heat and held it for two years and was then promoted to assistant coach/advance scout in 1999. Two years after that, he was promoted again this time to assistant coach/director of scouting. From 2001 to 2008 Spoelstra was an assistant coach for the Heat and won a ring in 2006. In 2008 after Pat Riley retied, Spolesrta was hired as head coach, a position Riley thought Spoelstra was made for.
“This game is now about younger coaches who are technologically skilled, innovative, and bring fresh new ideas,” said Riley. “That's what we feel we are getting with Erik Spoelstra. He's a man that was born to coach."
In three years as a the Heat’s head coach Spoelstra really hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves. He took over a 15 win team after the 07-08 season and promptly won 43 games and earned a trip to the playoffs the next year with a roster that was devoid of talent other than D Wade. The following season, the Heat won four more games (with arguably less talent than the year before) made the playoffs but again lost in the first round. Then came year one with the “Big Three”. After a rough start, the Heat won 11 more games than they did the previous season and eventually lost in the NBA Finals.
So really, if it was any other coach in any other situation with any other team, “Coach X” would be considered possibly the hottest coaching prospect in the land and would be a target for a lot of struggling franchises (Timberwolves, Clippers, etc.) considering that as his personal knowledge and experience increased during his career as a coach at varying levels, the team’s fortunes increased in the same proportion. But because his name is Erik Spolestra and generally no one roots for the bully, he gets no credit.
And that is why he is the most hated coach in the NBA.
Image Credit: Keith Allison