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Rick Barry say’s LeBron’s coaches are problem, Rick Carlisle disagrees

Jun 16, 2011, 11:29 AM EDT

Erik Spoelstra AP

The one person that matters — Pat Riley — thinks Heat coach Erik Spoelstra did a good job this season. At least good enough to be back for a second season.

That hasn’t stopped people outside the team from speculating about Spoelstra’s future and what kind of job he did.

That includes Rick Barry, the NBA Hall of Famer who was on KHTK in Sacramento (via Sports Radio Interviews) and took a swipe at all the coaches LeBron has had, including Spoelstra. Barry was asked what LeBron needs to work on this summer.

“His shot, first and foremost, because I think that’s where it all comes down to. If you don’t have confidence in your shot, it destroys the rest of your game. … Then, little nuances, facing up, learning how to be the guy learning to use y0ur first dribble to go by instead of everything off the dribble … learning how to use screens probably, then of course the coach running more plays for him where he can run off double and triple staggered screens, learning to curl it properly, learning how to do the little things in the game which, unfortunately, have not been taught to him, which I don’t blame him for. I blame the people who have coached him over the years. To have a talent like this and to not maximize the full potential of this talent is inexcusable and reprehensible to me and the coaches who have had him should be ashamed of themselves.”

So… Barry wants to take the ball out of LeBron’s hands as a shot creator (and one of the best passers in the game) and use him like Ray Allen? You can decide for yourself if you think that is wise.

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle came to Spoelstra’s defense — unsolicited — on Wednesday, according to ESPN Dallas.

“Listen, I would like to say one thing about Miami if I could,” Carlisle said. “I thought Erik Spoelstra had the toughest job in basketball with that team because of the way the team came together and because of the unbelievably high expectations…

“My hat’s off to Erik and the job he did,” Carlisle said. “It was extremely difficult, extremely trying. We went through a lot of difficult times before we got to our moment. Their time will definitely come.”

You can choose to go Carlisle — the guy who just coached his team to the NBA title — or Barry.

  1. silk32 - Jun 16, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    Basically Rick Barry is suggesting Lebron should have gone to college and played under a quality coach like Dean Smith or Bobby Knight >> . . . Of course Carlisle is going to say Spoelstra did a great job. He doesn’t want him or Lebron to decode Dallas’ “Lebron Rules”.

  2. passerby23 - Jun 16, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    Rick Barry is talking about Lebron’s game specifically, Rick Carlisle is talking about Spoelstra’s job overall as a coach. I don’t really see the comparison.

    In any event, Rick Barry has some good points. Lebron is not the playmaker on every possession. He does come off screens, he does post, he doesn’t curl properly, he does lack confidence in his shot at times. That doesn’t mean he becomes Ray Allen, just that he has to work on those aspects.

  3. randysavage4ever - Jun 16, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    I think all parties involved are to blame.

    1) – Blame Lebron James jumpshot

    2)- Blame Lebron James lack of killer instinct to take over ball games. We saw that instinct in games 3 and 4 from Wade…

    3) Yes- part of it is coaching. If Lebron had played under a Phil Jackson, he may have some bling on his fingers…Silas, Mike Brown, Spo (I’m a fan of him but hes still learning), are not exactly landmark coaches like a Larry Brown, Poppovich, etc…

    4) Blame some of the Heat players for not stepping up either. Eddie House shot the Heat OUT of the game in the 4th, missed free throws, REBOUNDING , etc…

    5) All in all – it comes back to Lebrons jumper and his offensive game. If Lebron scores more, the Heat win, and we dont have this conversation

  4. florida727 - Jun 16, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    Why does the media even give Rick Barry a forum to speak? Does he get some sort of perverse pleasure out of seeing his name in print? The game is far different from when he played, and with all due respect, has passed him by. Skill sets are different. Style of play is different. Athleticism is different. Truth be told, Rick Barry, literally, isn’t ‘qualified’ to speak on today’s game.

  5. metalhead65 - Jun 16, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    people need to stop making excuses for Lebron and accept the fact he is the player he always will be. it is hard to have any sympathy for a guy that calls himself “king” james then blames everyone but himself when things do not go his way. he has had everything handed to him and has a sense of entitlement when he has not earned it. he blamed his team mates when he could not win with the cavs then takes his talents to the heat where again falls short and he and his people want to blame the talent around him. again the talent was good enough to have one of the better records in the league but when he comes up small in the championship series it is again lack of talent around. he has 2 of the best players in the league as team mates but he still can’t win? no excuses either he is the one who had the tv special then had a press conference/celebration with his new team mates when he signed promising multiple titles.

    • delius1967 - Jun 16, 2011 at 12:58 PM

      Right on that. Anyone remember that when Bird joined the Celtics, they went from 29 wins to 61? He didn’t win all those games by himself; he made his teammates better. Ditto all the truly great players. How many forwards have looked like superstars in Phoenix playing with Steve Nash, took a bigger contract somewhere else, and were suddenly much more ordinary?

      I keep hearing what a great passer LeBron is. And the truth is, he can make difficult passes, but getting the ball there is only half of it; the other half is doing it at the right time. Doing something mesmerizing that makes the whole defense look at you, not at the guy you are passing it to. James doesn’t do that.

  6. goforthanddie - Jun 16, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    The only coaching problem leb has stems from an early age. He’s obviously been leaps and bounds above everybody he played with/against all the way through high school. Most likely the best player his coaches have ever had/seen.
    How do you push someone who’s already 10x better than the next guy? You can’t, he has to have that in himself. leb never found that push in himself, and didn’t have to. He coasted before the NBA, he’s coasting now.

    • silk32 - Jun 16, 2011 at 4:35 PM

      @goforthanddie Your argument is a faulty one. George McGinnis, Clyde “The Glide” Austin, Oscar Robertson, and Lew Alcindor were all 10x better than their high school competition and they all overcame challenges at all levels of basketball. Gallileo once said “You can’t teach anyone anything. You can only help them discover it within themselves.” The same holds true for coaching.

      • mytthor - Jun 16, 2011 at 5:53 PM

        Actually it sounds like you’re agreeing with him.

  7. blueintown - Jun 16, 2011 at 1:08 PM

    FOURTH season with the Heat. C’mon, Kurt. I know you are aware of this given your ESPN-like obsession with Miami.

    • originalkingjames - Jun 16, 2011 at 1:40 PM

      I’m waiting for the twitter photo of Kurt on his knees in front of LeBron. Where does he get that Barry said to turn LeBron into a Ray Allen? Is it the part about working on his jump shot? That’s always been inconsistent.

      LeBron needs to stop coaching himself. He needs to swallow his pride and ask for help because something is broken as soon as he gets to a real pressure game. The must wins. The other team only has five guys on the floor so you can’t double team James and Wade at the same time especially when Bosh is on the floor with them. They should have been embarrassing teams with all that talent but people keep forgetting to consider chemistry. They also need to realize that is a lot of ego to put a lid on.

      I have said it before and I will say it again. LeBron needs to be Wades Pippen. He wants to be a supporting player, not the star. He wants to be more like Magic not like Jordan.

      What someone really needs to do is lite a fire under his butt when he is off the ball. It’s pass and stand still every year in the playoffs. Maybe the kid should get some sleep and keep his body fresh because it is a very long season and basketball puts a lot of hurt on a body no matter what kind of shape his is in. Also, the beating you take driving the ball in the lane is worse than a lot of non players can imagine.

      Against Boston last year we said that he quit but looking at him in the Dallas series I truly believe he is tired by the time he gets to the second round of the second season. No discipline off the court which was his biggest downfall in Cleveland. Maybe it’s not that he isn’t coached well. It’s more that he isn’t managed well.

      Young dumb and full of…………………..

  8. professoressadiesel - Jun 16, 2011 at 1:13 PM


    Ouch, English language, ouch.

  9. telergy - Jun 16, 2011 at 1:14 PM

    If you want to know how to effectively shoot, or score, …Rick Barry knows basketball. What Rick is REALLY saying is that LEBRON CANT CREATE HIS OWN SHOT. And if you sit and think about it for a second, HE CANT.

    He cant take anyone off the dribble with a crossover. His go to move is his one dribble step back jab jumpshot. If he takes someone off the dribble, and the defender rides his hip, he’ll either travel, throw it off the backboard or claim he was fouled.

    Lebron is great in open space because physically hes unlike any player we’ve ever seen. Erik’s offense is so blaise and boring. Rick’s right, the offense Lebron is in now isn’t maximizing his skill set.

    Lebron also needs to dedicate himself to improving all areas of his offensive game because as of now they are pretty mediocore.

  10. silk32 - Jun 16, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    Sorry if my comments aren’t what people “want to hear.” Hey, I’m just the messenger.

    • helinhater - Jun 16, 2011 at 1:36 PM

      Its not that your comments arent “what people want to hear”

      It’s that you keep linking to some stupid, mediocre blog.

      Cut it out.

      And stop being such a baby if people don’t give you a thumbs up.

      Looks like you and LBJ both could grow some thicker skin.

      • denverhoopdreams - Jun 16, 2011 at 5:02 PM

        Right? I get thumbs down all the time. Doesn’t bother me one bit. Why would someone be advertising their freelance blog when no one really cares?

  11. helinhater - Jun 16, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    For the record, you can blame the coaches but the fact of the matter is LBJ has never been in a situation with a coach he truly has been forced to respect.

    Along the way it’s been guys who, right or wrong, simply don’t have a track record to demand his respect.

    We’re talking about a player who has been coddled by his inner circle and team management since he was 18.

    It’s pretty difficult for a guy like Silas or Mike Brown to demand things out of LBJ when they don’t have a vast record of success prior to coaching LBJ.

    Hell, even when Lebron had the opportunity to play for Coach K, he didn’t exactly love it.

    Which ultimately boils down to this – Lebron thinks he’s great. Hence the “Chosen One” and “King James” monikers. Comparatively speaking, Kobe is a maniac and believes he can improve.

    Which explain why one embraced playing for Coach K and one didn’t.

    In short, unless Pat Riley gets much more involved in the process, LBJ will not adjust. He will retreat into his inner circle and accept their praise and excuses over focusing on improving himself as a person and player.

    • whiskeyontherox - Jun 16, 2011 at 5:17 PM

      My brother and I had this same conversation three days ago and we both agree with you 100%. He is surrounded by “yes men” who are benefiting from his celebrity. His comments after losing the Championship and that “Decision” fiasco show he does not have a seasoned vet in his corner. When I say seasoned vet, I mean a player who’s been in the league for more than 10 years, a PR person who has been in the business for years and/or a strong man who isn’t going cowtow to LBJ just because. I won’t bother to mention his mother because she is flat out RIDICULOUS!!! He has been spoon fed “you’re greater than the rest” meals since he was a kid. Remember the Nike commercials that ran before he’d even played one game in the NBA? The Church of King James…

      Where are some of the older heads in the game? Why haven’t they reached out to him as mentors?

      • Kurt Helin - Jun 16, 2011 at 5:36 PM

        There is an old Chinese proverb: When the student is ready, the teacher will come. I think that fits with LeBron.

  12. vette78man - Jun 16, 2011 at 1:42 PM

    In Cleveland, LBJ had the reputation of, on more than one occasion, waving off Mike Brown’s play calling from the bench during games. It leads to the question: Did LBJ not receive adequate coaching — or did he simply refuse to accept attempts to coach him?

    • randommofo - Jun 16, 2011 at 5:36 PM

      fair point, but isn’t demanding respect part of the job of a coach ?

      mike brown in LA next season will surely be interesting

      • whiskeyontherox - Jun 16, 2011 at 5:38 PM

        more like disaster but that works for me.

  13. LPad - Jun 16, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    I don’t think Rick Barry was saying use LeBron like Ray Allen. Kurt every wing player in the league comes off double and triple staggered screens. Some like Ray and Reggie Miller use them to get a jump shot, others like Kobe, MJ, Roy, Pierce, Rick Barry, etc. use them to get isolations on the wing, low or high post. Some players use them for both. LeBron gets the ball at the top of the key with virtually no action, which brings to question why?

    Barry is making the assumption this is because of inadequate skill development. This is probably the right assumption. I wouldn’t run sets for LeBron to get the ball in the typical areas wings get the ball if these are the weakest points of his game. LeBron plays like scoring point guard, which makes sense because when he first arrived in Cleveland they made him a scoring point guard. Most players straight out of high school have a mentor to develop their overall game. For example, KG had McHale work with him everyday. Bynum had Kareem work with him everyday. LeBron did not. Part of this is on LeBron for not seeking this out, but part of it is also on Cleveland for not getting him one.

    Ironically, Erik Spolestra is exactly what LeBron needs. Spolestra helped develop Wade’s game, they talk about the jumper, but he helped in all areas on the offense end. He is actually making sure the same thing is happening with LeBron. For example, he has made sure LeBron is developing his post game. He doesn’t get a lot of touches, but they are emphasizing it in practice. They also gave him touches in the post when Bosh was out.

    As a result, on the rare occasion he gets a touch down there he looks a lot better. Take game six for example, he got the ball in the midpost, recognized that the defender was overplaying to the high side with no baseline help and made the correct baseline spin move for a lefty layup. This is just one example. It takes years to develop the ability to dominate from the post, high post, and wing areas. Something only the greatest wing players have mastered. When he gets better at it in practice, we’ll start to see it in the games.

    Which is probably why, Carlisle is defending Spolestra. Carlisle can tell that LeBron’s game is slowly evolving and he knows it is because of the coaching he is receiving.

  14. bigcali4life - Jun 16, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    My problem with Rick Barry’s comments is that he is giving Lebron yet another free pass and putting blame on all his coaches. They are NBA coaches for a reason. I’m pretty sure the coaches and their staff’s look over tape and suggest to James what he needs to improve on. It’s up to Lebron to go out there and do it.

    It’s pretty much the same thing as the last few years with Cleveland and everyone would blame the supporting cast and say the Cavs didn’t do anything to help him. Well they went out and got Jamison and Shaq. I remember how much a lot of Cav fans claimed they had the title once Antwan was traded to them.

    Point fingers and blame everyone else, but the guy. Kobe went out and improved his game, even though he was a top notch athelete. He changes his game as his natural ability changes. Now if Kobe just fell apart and did not go out of his way to improve himself, do we blame every coach he had? No. Shaq didn’t do enought to stay in shape and get better (which is self-motivation) we didn’t blame all of his coaches. Can Lebron change it up and improve his game? Sure he can. It’s more up to him than it is about his coaches telling him to improve it.

    As the saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”

  15. jebsta16 - Jun 16, 2011 at 9:11 PM

    The point is Lebron has to do more when he doesn’t have the ball and work on other aspects of his game instead of bringing the ball down drive down the middle and kick the ball out. How many times do you see him come off a screen turn and shoot. How many times do you see him get a favorable match up in the post and just pass the ball away instead. Wade is a more complete offensive player then Lebron right now.

    I think Wade is going to cripple Lebrons development because as long as James is in Miami it is Wades team and Wade wants the ball. Wade needs to understand that Lebron has excellent court vision and wade needs to be more like Rip Hamilton running people around the court and getting open looks instead of dribbling around until the shot clock is at 2 and shoot with a hand in the face.

    I mostly blame Spo because none of the players knew where they fit in and what roles they played. When Wade is on the court no one wants to shoot. When he is off Lebron is distributing the ball. It comes down to Spo to create a role for Wade that doesn’t take away his team leader role while letting Lebron control the ball.

  16. 1historian - Jun 17, 2011 at 7:17 AM

    LeBron James is about as physically gifted a basketball player as I have ever seen. But he does NOT have the killer instinct that set apart players like Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. Come crunch time when everything is on the line he does not TAKE OVER THE GAME. The greats DO take over. That’s what makes them great. I think LBJ will become one of the greats but right now – No.

    And it might help if he would lose that idiotic tattoo on his back – That’s just absolutely asking for it.

  17. diablito0402 - Jun 17, 2011 at 10:29 AM

    Like ive said all along, lechoke has the most physical and strong body anyone has ever seen in the nba, and quick too. But he lacks upstairs, his mental makeup is imature and weak.

  18. aboogy123456 - Jun 17, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    Lebron needs to work on his movement off the ball, his post up game, his jumpshot but he’s never gonna be really good at these things.

    if you remember, these are all things that kobe could not do coming into the league but he worked hard every summer and he’s very good at them now. I don’t think Lebron has kobe’s drive or intelligence to improve. and if he doesn’t improve then his game will start breaking down fast around 30 once his body starts breaking down a bit.

  19. halfcourthero - Jun 17, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    C’mon Rick… With ur underhanded free throw shooting azz… U can’t blame all of his coaches, who can blame is LBJ for not working on those parts of game hard enough. Coaches don’t work with players during the offseason like that. He should be doing that on his own. Besides LBJ should really learn how to post up

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