Currently, Erik Spoelstra shares the second most impressive longevity in the league with Rick Carlisle, with 11 seasons spent on the same bench. Obviously, the two tacticians are behind the stainless Gregg Popovich, attached to the bench of San Antonio since 1996.
The Heat coach stayed that way, thanks to his talent and results, but also because Pat Riley has confidence in him. Yet he is well aware that he could have lost his place during the seasons of the “Big Three” era.
“It’s not science fiction. It’s a reality “, notes the double NBA champion. ” I knew him. If it wasn’t said, it was known. They wouldn’t have wanted to do it, but if you don’t get past the obstacle, somehow, a change has to take place. I understand. This is the business. “
That’s when Pat Riley’s loyalty comes into play. Although the pressure was enormous, especially that of LeBron James, and the failure in the 2011 Finals was resounding (against Rick Carlisle and Dallas precisely), Erik Spoelstra never received a stab in the back.
“We always want a bit of loyalty. In difficult series, where there are turning points, we hope for the support of the people we work for. Riley and Micky Arison are among the best owner / president tandems in the sports world. They understand the need for stability. They face storms. I was in trouble this first year (2010-2011), especially in the Finals. But there are also the series in which we were led. I am thinking of Boston for example. The margin was fine: an action here, an action there, a shoot that fits or not. I love my bosses because they have my back. “
And to conclude with a new praise of the former coach of the Knicks, the Heat or the Lakers.
“He’s the Bill Walsh (former legendary coach in the NFL) of the NBA. He systematized everything. He brought so much to the preparation, to the attention to detail, to the defense. Just his way of presenting himself: a sort of CEO on a bench, who chairs his staff and lets his assistants take care of big files. He modernized it all. Despite that, I think he doesn’t get enough credit that he deserves. “