NBA: Spoelstra on early years as Heat coach -- ‘I didn’t feel I was ready’


Posted at Sep 03 2020 06:43 PM

Erik Spoelstra coaching during a Miami-Phoenix game on August 8. David Dow, NBAE via Getty Images/AFP

US-based Filipino head coach Erik Spoelstra acknowledged he wasn't comfortable calling the shots from the Miami Heat sidelines early on, saying his confidence just wasn't there. 

The subject came up in an article by Ramona Shelburne posted Wednesday, tackling the role of second-year forward Duncan Robinson, who has become a vital piece for the Heat this season. 

In the article, Robinson acknowledged harboring "impostor syndrome," or impostor phenomenon as the American Psychological Association has termed it.

"Impostor phenomenon occurs among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success. They often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud," the APA said. 

Robinson mentioned that to Spoelstra, saying "I brought it up to him, like, 'I don't know if you ever heard of it.'

"And he goes, 'Heard of it? I lived it.'"

Just in his third year coaching the Heat, Spoelstra was thrown into the fire when championship-aspiring Miami acquired LeBron James and Chris Bosh to partner with Dwyane Wade, a trio of big names that could ruffle any young coach's confidence. 

"My first probably two or three years as a head coach, I really battled and struggled with that," Spoelstra said. "I didn't feel like I was ready or necessarily that I belonged."

Spoelstra did admirably, taking Miami to four straight NBA finals and winning two championships along the way.

Being aware of Robinson's mindset, Spoelstra's advice to the first-year pro?

"Last year he would turn down shots, like, 'Am I allowed to shoot this? Should this ball go to Dwyane?' " Spoelstra said. 

"We had to teach him that it's not about the makes. It's about hunting for the attempts."

That appeared to have paid dividends for Robinson, who averaged 13.5 points in the regular season shooting 44.6% from downtown, according to

On Wednesday, the Heat took a 2-0 series lead over Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals.