Did Erik Spoelstra Throw Shade at LeBron James With Recent Comments?

lebron james erik spoelstra

Getty LeBron James with Erik Spoelstra.

After helping to lead them to two championships, LeBron James will now face his former team in the NBA Finals. While there isn’t a rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat, it should make for a really strong matchup. Despite adding a superstar in Jimmy Butler in the offseason, not many people were expecting the Heat to get this far in the playoffs.

Not only have they made it to the NBA Finals, but they also made it look relatively easy along the way. Butler has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way over the last few years but it appears he’s found a perfect fit in Miami. Head coach Erik Spoelstra had some very high praise for the All-Star.

“So much of this league is just about alignment,” Spoelstra said, per the L.A. Times. “Who cares what you believe in? Who cares what your culture is? Can you acquire a group of people that are aligned in whatever that vision is? And you need your leaders to embody those qualities, whatever they may be. And Jimmy Butler embodies those qualities just like all the Heat players of our great past have done before: Alonzo Mourning, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem. He just embodies these qualities of professionalism, of work, of accountability, of being reliable, and he leads.

“He doesn’t have to make any apologies for who he is. We love him for who he is and what he’s all about. He impacts winning.”


Where’ LeBron?

Now, the comments from Spoelstra just seem like generic praise but it might go deeper than that. He listed several Heat greats but notably omitted LeBron James in his list. That would normally just be seen as an oversite but Spoelstra was LeBron’s coach during his entire tenure with the team. Plus, he mentioned Bosh and Wade who were only two parts of the big three they had in Miami.

It’s hard to imagine Spoelstra just happened to forget about the best player to ever play for the Heat. LeBron won two titles with the team and two MVPs. That’s not something a coach just forgets about. It’s probably some gamesmanship on Spoelstra’s part. He doesn’t seem eager to praise LeBron with the matchup upcoming.

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Spoelstra Refused to Talk LeBron After Winning the East

While Spoelstra doesn’t seem too eager to talk about his former player, the matchup in the Finals is certainly a great storyline. ESPN asked him about it but he didn’t feel like going into details.

“That’s a great storyline, right? Can you let us enjoy this for a little bit, now? This is hard to do. It’s hard to get to this point,” Spoelstra said. “And I want our guys to recognize that, acknowledge it, enjoy it for at least a night. And then we’ll get on to that tomorrow.”

Now, Spoelstra could have a reason for not being a huge fan of LeBron. There were reports a few years ago that he tried to get the coach fired. In fact, Heat team president Pat Riley went so far as to admit that LeBron cryptically suggested that Riley take over as the head coach after the team lost in the 2010 NBA Finals. While LeBron helped get Spoelstra two champion trophies, there may be some animosity there.

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