If you are Erik Spoelstra heading into the 2010-2011 NBA season, there is one big question mark; Will I be able to get LeBron James on my side? Wade was already there, but if he doesn’t get James, he’s eventually out. That’s not a big secret. Watch Pat Riley early in the season say exactly that in an interview with Magic Johnson [start at 55 sec mark]. The rough start probably helped in terms of bonding, but in my opinion Spoelstra won James over during a late season losing streak.
Here’s what happened in five of six games, all losses:
- Feb 24 @ Chicago — final score 93-89 — time left 0:11 — LeBron James misses 24-foot three point jumper
- Feb 27 vs NY Knicks — final score 91-86 — time left 0:02 — LeBron James misses 25-foot three point jumper
- Mar 3 vs Orlando — final score 99-96 — time left 0:03 — LeBron James misses 25-foot three point jumper
- Mar 4 @ San Antonio — Destroyed 125-95
- Mar 6 vs Chicago — final score 87-86 — time left 0:05 — LeBron James misses driving layup
What were we fans all saying at the time? ‘It’s not rocket science, give the ball to Wade!’ The Heat did exactly that in the next game against the Lakers, a big win in a close game. But how do you think it made James feel about his coach when Spoelstra stuck with him despite his repeated failures at the end of games?
So the next time you see a montage of the Heat and James struggles during that part of the season, appreciate that James’ misses were the best thing that could have happened to Erik Spoelstra’s job security and by extension, the Miami Heat’s cohesion. Because after those failures, both superstars appeared to be allies of their head coach.