Erik Spoelstra's seat was warm before the season began, but after a month of play and a tepid start for the Miami Heat, the "hot seat" in South Beach is hotter than ever. But if the NBA's youngest coach is worried, he isn't letting on. At today's meeting with the press, Spoelstra addressed the swirl of speculation that's engulfed his team over the past few days. Via ESPN:
On the significance of Tuesday’s "bump" with LeBron James before a third quarter timeout in loss to Dallas
I didn’t even notice it until people mentioned it after the game. Often, coming out of the timeout, it’s a pinball game. I’m colliding into a lot of people. So it’s probably a perfect case of over-speculation from this team. I was fine with that timeout. The fact that guys are not happy about the play, tempers rose, you could see the fire and passion in people’s eyes. That’s the way it should be. None of us should be happy about what was going on in the third quarter and taking it in stride.
On whether there have been confrontations and voiced disagreements between the players and the coaching staff
That will happen everywhere. A coach-player relationship in this league often will be confrontational at times. And other times, it’s smooth sailing. But just the dynamic of the competitive nature of everybody, expectations, results -- all these things combine, yeah, sometimes it will get testy. And that’s good. Especially when people have a pure heart and mind about getting better, that just shows that the sides want to make it right. I’m going to demand. I’m going to push and prod. And a lot of times, players don’t know what is needed for a team to break through. The guys have been good about it. They understand they need to be coached, they need to be pushed, and that this is a process. We do need to do this together. But we need to get better.
There's plenty more over at ESPN, but as you can see, Spoelstra's not willing to acknowledge anything out of the ordinary in Miami. And really, were it another team, we probably wouldn't think too much of what's gone on. The reaction to LeBron's apparent "bump" would've made you think he headbutted Spoelstra.
But that's the problem; it's not just another team. Miami set the bar high for themselves, and if nothing else, their inflated vision and lofty predictions guaranteed they'd face this sort of scrutiny every step of the way. It comes with the territory.
And for Spoelstra, a man who did an admirable job coaching in obscurity with the Heat the past two years, this new territory might just mean the end of his run. But he's not worried about that, either.
"My job is to prepare this team and to get us ready for the games and continue to help us get better," he explained. "That keeps my days full and my nights." So there you have it: while the speculation swirls, he's going to keep doing his job. But how much longer will it be his job?