Eric Spoelstra is under pressure to win it all with a Miami Heat lineup that… (Jeff Zelevansky / Getty…)
Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss whether Miami Heat Coach Eric Spoelstra will keep his job if he fails to lead the star-studded team to an NBA title for the second year in a row. Check back throughout the day for their responses and join the conversation by voting in the poll and leaving a comment of your own.
Dave Hyde, South Florida Sun Sentinel
Assuming no crippling injury or unseen oddity, there are two ways it probably breaks for the Heat this spring: 1) It doesn't win the title and change comes. As it will. The Big Three gets broken up, the roster undergoes an overhaul and Erik Spoelstra is replaced as coach; 2) It wins the title to complete the first, most difficult step of its era. The Big Three become the team they’ve discussed with Spoelstra crowned with them in the coming years.
That’s the kind of a bottom-line playoffs they’re having. No excuses, as Spoelstra keeps saying. They are the clear favorite to come out of the East. I think they’ll win a good Finals against the survivor from the West. But it’s not just the coach with a lot at stake. It’s the Big Three as well.
Shannon J. Owens, Orlando Sentinel
I’d have no problems with Erik Spoelstra getting the ax if the Miami Heat fails to capture the NBA title.
Why? Because the only things standing between the Heat and that Larry O’Brien Trophy is air and opportunity.
If this were a spades game, then this NBA season just dealt Spoelstra and Co. two jokers and the ace of spades with a Derrick Roseless, Dwight Howardless, Baron Davisless Eastern Conference playoffs outlook.
Just on talent alone, the Miami Heat has the experience and (fingers crossed) healthy players to reach the NBA Finals again.
A part of me feels sympathy for Spoelstra, who has faced a great deal of scrutiny given the fact he’s got three superstars on his team in Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
But just like a card game, if Spoelstra loses the title with a winning hand, then you can only blame the player, not the game.
K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune
Erik Spoelstra is as linked to Pat Riley as winning. So, yes, even if the Heat goes 0-for-2 with The Big Three, Spoelstra will be back as coach. The better question is: Who would Riley get to replace Spoelstra? Riley knows as much as anyone this roster still remains somewhat flawed.
That's what happens when three near-maximum salaried players eat up most of your salary-cap space. Frankly, that the Heat has overcome its glaring holes at center and point guard speak almost as much to Spoelstra's aptitude as the prodigious talents of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Players win games in this league. But coaches play a big part in getting them to do so, and Spoelstra has not only instituted a tough, defensive-minded personality to overcome the Heat's roster flaws but also handled superstars effectively. Spoelstra is one of the game's better coaches and harder workers, the latter trait most impressing Riley. He'll be back.