In a star-studded NBA Finals, OKC coach Scott Brooks and Miami coach Erik Spoelstra are looking to make a name for themselves.
Spoelstra (or “Spo” as he is affectionately known as) is best known for being the protégé of coaching legend Pat Riley.
Scott Brooks, coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, is a former NBA point guard who jumped around the league, playing for six different teams in his 11-year playing career from 1988-1999.
On November 22, 2008, Brooks became the Thunder's interim head coach. As the 2008-09 season came to a conclusion, Brooks was named head coach of an extremely young and talented OKC squad. GM Sam Presti praised Brooks for “fostering accountability…[and possessing] the ability to communicate” in the Thunder locker room.
While he may be a newcomer to the head coaching scene, Scott Brooks gained the respect of his players quickly. In his first full season as a head coach, he earned the NBA Coach of the Year award.
Brooks was able to manage a host of young talent effectively—something that could have easily gone awry considering the egos involved.
Kevin Durant certainly deserves credit here, as well. His quiet, humble nature somewhat calmed the personalities of players like Russell Westbrook. If the star of the show was calm, cool and collected, there was no reason for anyone else to disturb the good thing they had going.
On the other hand, Spoelstra [tries to] manage a bunch of personalities in Miami. But Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports quotes Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls as saying “They’re Hollywood as hell.”
That doesn’t surprise anyone, really. The first thing Wade, James and Bosh did when they united in Miami was throw a party like they had just won the finals.
Coach Spoelstra does deserve a tremendous amount of respect for being the first Filipino-American head coach in the NBA, but he only has so much control of his three superstars. Not to mention that at times he seems to be baffled by opposing superstars (see Rajon Rondo in the Eastern Conference Finals).
Spo came into a team that was filled with veteran players and has had a tougher time earning the respect of Heat players. To this day, if you watch the Miami huddle in timeouts, you can often see the eyes of players like LeBron James wandering away from Spoelstra and his clipboard.
That doesn’t happen when Doc Rivers is yelling at his guys to bear down or when Gregg Popovich is demanding Duncan & Co. to get “nasty.”
And of course there was the incident with Dwyane Wade.
Although the heated exchange was undoubtedly blown out of proportion, suffice it to say that Wade would never challenge Pat Riley in that manner.
Regardless of prior successes and failures, both coaches have led their respective franchises past some well-respected teams. Now they look to have their name etched in NBA history as a champion.
The reality is neither coach appears to be the next Phil Jackson or Pat Riley, but they have talent like few other teams in the NBA.
Don’t be surprised to see these two coaches combine for more than a couple titles in the next decade (unless, of course, the Heat lose and Spoelstra is fired).
But that doesn’t matter to these guys, what matters is the here and now. Erik Spoelstra wants to get that elusive first title under his belt and Scott Brooks wants to get his young guns able to fire effectively.
Who will be crowned? That remains to be seen.
The NBA champion might just come down to coaching decisions in what will be an intense series.