Spoelstra, Pop blast NBA coaching turnover
Erik Spoelstra and Gregg Popovich briefly shifted their focus Friday from making adjustments in the NBA Finals to taking aim at the rampant turnover in the league's coaching ranks in recent weeks.
SAN ANTONIO -- Erik Spoelstra and Gregg Popovich briefly shifted their focus Friday from making adjustments in the NBA Finals to taking aim at the rampant turnover in the league's coaching ranks in recent weeks.
At least 12 of the league's 30 teams have either hired or are in the process of searching for new coaches since the end of the regular season two months ago. That list of teams doesn't include the Boston Celtics and the uncertainty of coach Doc Rivers' immediate future with the team.
"I think it's a terrible state for the profession right now," Spoelstra said during a conference call Friday amid a two-day break before Game 5 on Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs. "[For] true success in the NBA, you must have consistency of culture. When you see that type of turnover over and over and over again, it's impossible to create any kind of sustainable culture. And we don't see it as a coincidence. We see it differently."
The latest coaching change came Wednesday night, when the Brooklyn Nets hired Jason Kidd, 40, after the veteran point guard announced his retirement last month. The Nets were one of six teams to change coaches after making the playoffs this season. The Memphis Grizzlies also decided not to extend Lionel Hollins' contract after he coached the team to its most wins in franchise history and to the Western Conference finals before losing to the Spurs.
Spoelstra, who his in his fifth season as head coach after spending a decade as an assistant in Miami, said both the Heat and Spurs annually compete for titles in part because of the stability both organizations have had over the years.
The Heat have had the same front-office leadership since owner Micky Arison hired Pat Riley as team president and coach in 1995. Miami has changed coaches four times since then, with Riley serving two separate stints on the bench and promoting assistants Stan Van Gundy and Spoelstra to take over for the other two coaching tenures.
The Spurs have had a similar structure under Popovich, who took on coaching duties in 1996 after working in the front office the previous year. The Heat and Spurs, who are tied 2-2 in the series, will have combined to win seven of the past 14 titles by the time this year's NBA Finals ends.
Popovich said owners don't tend to be as patient with the process of building a team and an infrastructure that can withstand a few losing seasons in the process of building.
"The change, change, change thing doesn't really work, [and] you can see that in a lot of organizations," Popovich said Friday. "When things don't happen quickly, I think some owners become frustrated. Some even take it personally -- almost like a little bit of an embarrassment because they've been so successful in their own way and have a hard time understanding the business."
The Spurs have changed ownership once during Popovich's time with San Antonio, but the team has had a remarkable run of 14 straight seasons with at least 50 victories. Meanwhile, Miami has had only three losing seasons since Riley arrived and began the process of grooming Spoelstra.
The Heat extended Spoelstra's contract two seasons ago after Miami had lost to Dallas in the 2011 Finals. On at least two occasions since LeBron James and Chris Bosh arrived as free agents in 2010 to join Dwyane Wade, the Heat faced stretches of struggles that sparked speculation about Spoelstra's job security. Both times, Riley dismissed any notion that Spoelstra's job was in any sort of jeopardy.
Spoelstra repeatedly dismisses the intense media scrutiny on his team as "white noise" or "manufactured storylines" that don't always reflect the level of support and stability the organization has shown over three decades.
"Even though we had four coaches, it's been the same culture and relatively the same philosophy," Spoelstra said. "San Antonio has been the same way. So we don't see [success] as a coincidence. It's really a shame for the coaching profession that it's so volatile. But I'm also very grateful our organization doesn't behave in that manner."
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