A quick observation about the
coaching matchup for the NBA Finals:
Erik Spoelstra, who could be
the most successful young coach in the history of the NBA, is doing
a superlative job with the Miami Heat. Like his counterpart for the San
Antonio Spurs, Gregg Popovich, Erik is not afraid to trust his bench. However,
there is one big difference between the two coaches and that is the fact
that Gregg is not reluctant to have any of his star players on the
bench, even at critical stages of the game.
There are very few
head coaches who are willing to put their star players on the bench, especially
down the stretch in the fourth quarter.
I vividly remember Game
7 of the Western Conference Finals in 1975 when I was stinking up the
court on the offensive end. My coach and former teammate, Al Attles,
didn't hesitate to take me out of the game late in the third quarter. In fact,
he took me out for a good portion of the fourth quarter, as my teammates
played exceptionally well and got us back in the game, holding the Chicago Bulls
scoreless for several minutes. If not for our bench, in particular
our backup center George Johnson, we would never have had the
opportunity to become NBA Champions.
So, for me, it will be
interesting to see if the bench of either the Spurs or the
Heat has a significant impact on the outcome of this series.