5 Reasons Pat Riley Should be on Miami Heat Sideline
The Miami Heat have gotten off to a disappointing start with a 9-8 record. Even for people with realistic expectations of the difficulties involved in acclimating an entire roster to a new system, it has been disappointing.
There were several questions surrounding the highly hyped team. Who would play point guard, did they have enough big men, and how would the ball sharing work? The biggest pre-season question was whether or not Erik Spoelstra was the head coach for this team.
Team president Pat Riley was the engineer and architect for what people were calling a super-team. Many of us also wonder when and if he would take over like he did for Stan Van Gundy in 2005.
This conversation heightened after the team lost for the second time in nine games to the Boston Celtics. The night previous to the second loss to Boston they suffered a late-game collapse against the Utah Jazz.
A three-game winning streak against the Raptors, Suns, and Bobcats quieted the conversation only to have it re-sparked by a three game losing streak during which they suffered a 15-point home loss to the Pacers.
Dissension in the locker room is starting to become public with unnamed sources telling ESPN’s Chris Broussard, that Spoelstra is not letting the players be themselves. Also according to another source, Spoelstra called out LeBron James, telling him, “To get more serious.”
Also in Broussard’s latest report, sources are saying that Spoelstra may be panicking due to conversation that he may be losing his job. An additional source told him, “If anything, he’s been too tough on them.”
So far the Heat have not shown a willingness to embrace being the most hated team in the NBA. Does that lack of embrace represent leadership from the coaching position? What are some of the other reasons Riley may need to make the move to the sidelines?
Better Early Than Late
Recently we have seen some prime examples in the NFL of what keeping a coach to long can do to your team (Wade Phillips and Brad Childress). Any team can be loaded with talent, but if you don’t have the right coach, failure is certain.
I’m not suggesting that Spoelstra be replaced after 20 games with a .500 record, but in the following 20 things had better turn around. They didn’t put this team together for welcome parades and overhyped pre-season media, they assembled this team to win championships.
If they wait until the end of February they might finish the season in 5th or 6th place and play the entire post-season without home court advantage. I know it may not seem like a big deal since the Heat had to run the “Fan Up” campaign, but it would be tougher playing game seven in Boston.
James Could Quit
As we all know the owner of the former team James played for, Dan Gilbert, called James a quitter. Many of us thought it was a strong accusation, but not many of us disagreed with the outspoken message on the team’s official website.
It is bad enough the team is struggling from lack of depth at key positions and injuries to important role players, the last thing they need is their most versatile player giving less than his full potential. History has a habit of repeating itself, if you believe he did it before than he will probably do it again.
Wade and Riley Have Differences
Dwayne Wade let it be known this pre-season that Spoelstra was the coach of this team and the guy he prefers. Wade has told people associated with the NBA that he didn’t enjoy being coached by Riley.
Hey Dwayne, since when did the road to a championship have to do with enjoying the journey?
Yes, Wade has enjoyed the past few seasons of mediocrity in Miami, but that is not why this team was assembled. The only difference I can see is Wade won a title with Riley and hasn’t won a playoff series without him.
Too Much Talent Needs Greatness
The Heat have two options for head coach: 1) A guy who has accomplished nothing. 2) A guy who has five championships to his credit. Please tell me which man you want to coach this Miami Heat team.
What Spoelstra did last season with that Heat roster was nice – a 47-35 record securing a No. 5 seed in the playoffs. That, however, is not an acceptable regular season when adding Chris Bosh and James.
The Heat need someone who can say, “here is your assignment, if you get it done I guarantee success.” Riley made it work with Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
It Would be a Shame
It would be unfortunate to waste time with someone unqualified for the position. This isn’t a coaching position that anyone can just show up and lead a team to their full potential. It takes a great coach to propel a team with this much talent and ego – ask Phil Jackson or Riley.
If this Heat team did reach its potential they could become the ultimate measuring stick for the next five years. If they were to get knocked off in the playoffs by the Celtics or Magic in the Eastern Conference, or beaten by the Lakers or Spurs in the finals, it would validate the greatness of those teams.
However, that only comes with Riley as the coach. If it was Spoelstra everyone would discount it by saying the Heat were being coached by a guy who had never been there before. It would be a shame to never witness potential greatness being coached by confirmed greatness.
Good not Great
I’m not saying Spoelstra’s a bad guy or even a bad coach. I’m saying he’s not the man for this job. In fact, Spoelstra will probably land a perfectly fitting job like the Bobcats or 76ers if he were to be let go this season or early in the following season.
Spoelstra has been set up in an almost certain-to-fail scenario. A good job won’t be good enough with the expectations heaped on this team by its players and the team president. In the end, the only way failure will not be overly scrutinized is if Riley returns to the Miami Heat sideline.