Posted: Jun 17, 2012 4:37 PM
Source: Associated Press
MIAMI - Pat Riley's 34th playoff victory as coach of the Miami Heat brought the franchise's first championship. If Erik Spoelstra got his 34th playoff victory in this year's NBA Finals, Miami would have another title.
That's just one of many parallels between Riley - the patriarch of the Heat sideline - and Spoelstra, his hand-picked successor.
Spoelstra has been part of the Heat organization since 1995, so there's no shortage of ideas and ideals he's taken from Riley along those years. But those who would know say Spoelstra is far from simply being a clone of the man who still watches over the Heat from the president's office.
"The game part of it, I think Spo does his own thing there," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "But definitely, the mental part of it, just listening to how he talks and prepares a team, the Riley fingerprints are all over that part. I mean, if you play for Riley or work around Riley, he's going to be a part of you for the rest of your life. That's just how it is."
For the Heat, it seems to be working.
Four Spoelstra seasons, four winning records, four playoff appearances and now two trips to the finals, with Game 3 of this year's title series Sunday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder. His path is well-known - start in the team's video room, eventually become an assistant coach, take over as coach when Riley retired for the second time, and after two seasons on the job see Miami land LeBron James and Chris Bosh to play alongside Dwyane Wade.
Not bad for the guy who didn't think Riley knew his name when he first arrived.
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