The news Wednesday of George Karl winning Coach of the Year for his job with the Denver Nuggets this season was a welcome surprise to Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, who said he wouldn't want to win the award because of the "stigma" attached to it.
Speaking at a press conference Wednesday morning to discuss the Heat's upcoming Game 2 against the Chicago Bulls, Spoelstra said he knows Karl didn't want the award, and went so far as to say "I was probably more pleased this morning than George Karl," according to a report from ESPN's Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com.
Spoelstra recognized that in recent history, NBA coaches that win the award rarely go on to win the championship in the same season -- Gregg Popovich was the last to do it in 2003 when he won the award the same season his San Antonio Spurs won the championship -- and knows that many of the former Coach of the Year winners are fired shortly after being given the recognition. Before this season, four of the past seven recipients were fired within a few years of winning the award, including Mike Brown in Cleveland, Byron Scott in New Orleans, Sam Mitchell in Toronto and Avery Johnson in Dallas.
Spoelstra then went on to compare the award to the "Sports Illustrated jinx," a belief that bad things happen to people who appear on the cover of the magazine:
"I'm not very superstitious, but all coaches, I think, understand [the stigma of] that award. It's not quite as definitive as the Sports Illustrated [cover] jinx, but it's pretty close."