Erik Spoelstra must go

C. Stiles

Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness once made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke recommends Pat Riley pull a Stan Van Gundy on Erik Spoelstra.

Pat Riley needs to stop wasting time writing love poems to his wife Christine during games and get back on the sidelines. Erik Spoelstra is a nice guy, and one day he might even be a great head coach. But right now, he is not the guy who can lead the Dwyane Wade-LeBron James-Chris Bosh troika to an NBA title. Riley needs to take over as head coach of the Miami Heat again, even if it means he gets criticized for repeating the morass of replacing Stan Van Gundy in 2006. Remember that one? That's when Riley fired the coach and then led the Heat to its first championship.

Riley is like the rich-ass dad who has been letting his young son drive his $1 million Bugatti Veyron. He wants to see if Spoelstra is mature enough to pilot the luxury ride. Based on the way the Heat has played during its losing games, the team's former video guy does not command the respect of his players. After the second loss to the Boston Celtics, James complained Spoelstra is playing him and D-Wade too much. Bosh, after scoring 35 points against a depleted Phoenix Suns team, groused that guys on the team just want to chill while Spoelstra wants them to work hard in practice. You better believe the Heat's power forward, whose play has been atrocious so far, would not be making stupid comments if Riley were coaching the team.

Spoelstra might be D-Wade's guy, but he is certainly not a James or a Bosh guy. So far, the players' roles are still undefined. Bosh is not getting the ball enough. Wade is still taking acrobatic shots as if he has no teammates. And what was the point of having Wade, James, and Bosh share the stage at the American Airlines Arena this past summer if you are drawing up plays for Eddie House to take the last shot in a close game? The money guys should take the money shots.

There are only four men in the NBA capable of coaching this group of All-Stars: Larry Brown, Phil Jackson, Jerry Sloan, and Riley. Of those coaches, only the Heat's president is available. This team needs a leader it can respect. That is not the case with Spoelstra. He is a good assistant. To develop into a top-tier coach, he needs to be in charge of a low-end NBA team or maybe a small school vying for a berth in the NCAA tournament. Giving Spoelstra the keys to the Bugatti was a mistake.

Make the change now. Riley, you can't wait until the All-Star break. Give the Heat fans their money's worth.

Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.


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