Even after a first-round loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the playoffs, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra continues to earn the respect of his peers around the league.
Spoelstra is working closely with San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Gonzaga's Mark Few during the Team USA practices this week in Las Vegas. Both Few and Popovich offered their praise for Spoelstra while working together as coaches of the U.S. Olympic Team and Select Team, which Spoelstra is in charge of.
“He is a great basketball coach. X’s and O’s, he’s an A-plus,” said Few, an assistant on the Select Team. "How he delivers his message is A-plus. How he reads and feels things that are happening in real time is A-plus. Yet he’s at this thing learning and asking questions from the lowly college guy here. Awesome, I mean just an incredible person and incredible coach.”
Spoelstra will enter his 14th season as the Heat's head coach, making him the second-longest tenured coach in the NBA behind Popovich. He's won two titles in five Finals appearances. Some have credited his success to coaching stars such as LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, but Popovich said Spoelstra's longevity speaks volumes.
“I think common sense tells us that competent continuity will serve you well,” Popovich said. “And I don’t think it really matters what business you’re talking about. If one can have continuity, in the long run it bodes well for success. But it takes judgement on the part of bosses, whether they be owners or general managers, whoever it is, to have that sort of wisdom to make those choices and have the courage to maybe go through the bad times at the beginning for good times later.”
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