March 24, 2011
Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has one big regret.
It doesn't have to do with his team's offense, and the way he might be mitigating his own creative instincts by being forced to ape Pat Riley's 2006-era playbook. It doesn't have to do with his team's rotation, or the clutch missteps that have forced the Heat into the third spot in the Eastern Conference.
What is one thing you would go back and do over this season? Was it the crying comment to the media after the game?
"I wouldn't have said it [the players were crying after the Chicago Bulls lose]. I mean the players…we don't have a problem with it because everybody has been in a situation where their words have been taken out of context. In a strange way we've all been through this together and everybody in something where they have tried to say something to the team that has been taken out of context and it strengthened us.
"I brought it up to the team the next day and there wasn't any broken trust. You know you're in front of the media three times a day eventually something you're going to say is probably not going to have the meaning you would have expected. I wouldn't have said it if I had a do over just so I would eliminate one more distraction, but my point about it was the guys do care. I think it is great that we have some incredible, incredibly competitive, self-willed guys in this locker room, but this means a lot more to them, their profession."
A couple of things, Erik …
The quote wasn't taken "out of context." There were players crying in the locker room following that loss.
And to anyone that was paying attention? This wasn't a bad thing. You lose another crushingly close game on another nationally televised stage? A killer loss that could have been avoided by mere inches? Overwrought emotions should result. People cry when they have nowhere else to turn, when words fail them, and when all other actions meant to calm don't suffice. That loss -- another close loss to another great team? That was worth crying over. It was that frustrating.
The quick take from this is that Erik Spoelstra is still learning on the job, with his regrets and missteps on public record. The better take on this is that no coach in NBA history has had a gig like this. The combination of hype, talent, weakness, and Pat Riley's looming presence make this an unprecedented turn.
And the story isn't over.