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Stan Van Gundy thinks people should back off of Erik Spoelstra

Jun 9, 2012, 7:29 PM EDT

Orlando's Stan Van Gundy shouts during an NBA playoff basketball game in Indianapolis Reuters

Stan Van Gundy’s unfiltered these days. He’s no longer employed by a team, so he’s kind of free to spout off however he likes. He’s not a guy who says things just to say them, like his brother, he has a tremendous amount of respect for players and coaches in the NBA and will want a job back in the league. But you can still tell he’s no longer as diplomatic as he used to be.

Like, for instance, when he lights up a national analyst for comments he made about Spoelstra’s coaching in Game 5:

“Yeah, maybe like the play they ran when Paul Pierce hit the big 3 at the end of the game. There was nothing going on there. It was a step-back, got some space and made a 3. The Heat are doing every bit as much offensively in terms of running plays. Here’s the difference: Doc Rivers won a championship a few years ago, so everyone just gives him the credit of being a great coach — which Doc deserves, he’s great. Eric hasn’t won, so people go into the series assuming there’s a great coaching advantage, which there is not. And because they have LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, it’s on Erik.”

Why do you think Spoelstra is getting so beat up?:

“I would say there’s basically two reasons. Number one is that there’s an expectation level for the Heat to win and if they don’t, people are just going to make an assumption that it’s coaching. To me, what’s confusing about this one though, is that it’s pretty easy. They have one of the 10 or 12 best offensive players in the league in Chris Bosh, who hasn’t been able to play. … The second thing is, quite honestly, is Erik never does anything to promote himself or try to defend himself. He just coaches his team and takes the heat and goes on.”

via Sports Radio Interviews » Blog Archive » Stan Van Gundy Stands Up For Miami Coach Erik Spoelstra.

Get it? He takes the heat? Because he coaches… nevermind.

SVG’s got a point here, but it’s not going to matter, because people will just associate him as defending Spoelstra from the same criticism he was under as a coach. But the point about championships is on target. We’re never going to know if the greatest coaches were a product of their talent or their systems. SVG is never going to coach Jackson’s Bulls, Spo’s never going to coach the Spurs. You can say Spoelstra had the most talent, but I think it’s pretty obvious the fit on this team is awkward and takes a lot of work to make it run.

Either way, it’s kind of notable that SVG is standing up for the head coach of the Heat, who pressured him out as head coach in 2006, and when he has such muted, reserved things to say about Pat Riley. But then, Spoelstra worked under Van Gundy and has never gotten anything but high marks from those who worked with him. Maybe we should all give Erik Spoelstra a brea…


  1. ss3walkman - Jun 9, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    Captain Save a Hoe just tryna speak up cause he got fired for not doing the same thing, managing his player.. DWIGHT! Spoelstra is outta there too if Miami don’t win the championship this year

  2. raidmagic - Jun 9, 2012 at 8:15 PM

    I think Spoelstra is taking too much heat for sure. Take Westbrook or Hardin off the Thunder and see where they are. Take Ginboli (sp) off the Spurs and they probably don’t go as far.

  3. bestcoastinfluence - Jun 9, 2012 at 8:26 PM

    Any high profile team will have a coach that is on the hot-seat when they don’t win the title. It is what it is.

    • cesaleo - Jun 11, 2012 at 4:31 PM

      So does that mean Pop should be fired? He hasn’t won a title in five years. And how about George Karl, in all the years in Denver he never won a title, give him the boot too? This ain’t about who’s not producing, its about how overblown people get when talking about the Heat.

      • bestcoastinfluence - Jun 13, 2012 at 11:30 AM

        Since when is San Antonio and Denver high profile jobs? Any time you have a team that isn’t win a title from the major market teams like the Heat, Knicks, Lakers and a few others, the coach is gonna be on the hot seat. Pop will never get fired and Karl has done more for that team than people realize, just like Spoelstra has for the Heat. But, Spoelstra is expected to win and Karl and Pop are allowed to come up short. He knew what he was getting into when he got the job and Lebron and Bosh joined that squad.

  4. eureca323 - Jun 9, 2012 at 9:50 PM

    It wasn’t Spoelstra’s fault Lebron broke down in the NBA finals last year. It’s not Spoelstra’s fault Bosh got hurt in the playoffs. Its not Spoelstra’s fault Wade is a shell of his former self right now. However I don’t agree that Spoelstra has them going every bit as well offensively then Doc has his team. Celtics run some outstanding plays. Especially in late game situations.

    • borderline1988 - Jun 9, 2012 at 10:28 PM

      Boston has a completely different team though, a perfect team for running out of timeout plays. They have the best (if not, second best to Nash) passer in the league in Rondo, who’s just as comfortable driving to the basket.
      They have Ray Allen, the best 3 pt. shooter in NBA history, and Pierce, easily one of the better shooters in the NBA. Both players can pump-fake, and put the ball on the floor and either pull-up or drive (which is rare for shooters).
      And then they have Garnett, one of the better jump-shooting big men in NBA history, who is also the best screener in the NBA. Then throw in Brandon Bass, who can really stick a 15 foot jumper.

      The Boston Celtics are literally built perfectly for end-of-game plays. They are a coach’s dream for out-of-bounds plays. There are endless amounts of opportunities, and it’s very hard to defend when you need to worry about 4 or 5 players who can score from any point on the court.

      Contrast that with Miami, who (sans Bosh) have only 2 players who can put the ball on the floor, and both of whom are much weaker outside shooters than Pierce, Allen & Garnett.
      That’s why the Heat often run iso plays. If they try to run a more complicated play, the Celtics will over-load on the strong side, and dare the Heat to try to swing the ball out of Lebron or Wade’s hands to Battier or someone else. When the Heat try to do that, usually the play breaks down because you can’t rely on the Heat role players to do anything but catch and shoot.

      Fact is, the Celtics are basically allowing Wade and Lebron to shoot from outside, and then they’ll double or triple team if either of them try to drive.

  5. iowahbr - Jun 10, 2012 at 7:15 AM

    Well I guess that Doc Rivers is 3 times a better coach than Spoelstra has now been setled by last night’s results. I think Spoestra is doing a better job than he is given credit for and more importantly seems to be respected by his players.

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