HOUSTON, TX – JANUARY 03: Head coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat watches the action on the court against the Houston Rockets during their game at the Toyota Center on January 3, 2015 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

There may not have been a lower night in the Miami Heat’s Big Three era than June 5, 2012.

That night, the Heat lost to the Celtics 94-90, falling behind the Eastern Conference Finals three games to two. After losing in the NBA Finals the year before, the LeBron James-led superpower was one game away from falling short of a title once again.

And while LeBron, Dwyane Wade and everyone else involved took some flak for the series deficit, no one got it worse than fourth-year Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

During and after Game 5, anti-Spoelstra sentiment was entirely unforgiving. A trigger-happy fan edited the coach’s Wikipedia page to say he’d been fired. Charitably, he was the wrong coach for this particular Heat team. Less charitably, he was “hot ass garbage.”


Spoelstra particularly suffered in comparisons with Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

There seemed to be some consensus that instead of coaching the Heat, Spoelstra should coach the Charlotte Bobcats, who had a vacancy at the time and had just completed the worst season in NBA history.



After Game 5, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojanrowski implied that Spoelstra was in fact one loss away from coaching the Bobcats.

He had to know that he possibly coached his final game at AmericanAirlines Arena with this startling 94-90 Game 5 loss, that losing in the conference finals would leave him with nothing but a notebook of cool Doc Rivers plays to bring with him to Charlotte.

But of course, Spoelstra never ended up in Charlotte. LeBron put up 45 points and 15 rebounds in Game 6 as the Heat beat the Celtics 98-79, and Miami continued on to the finals, where the dispatched the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games. The Heat won another title the following year, and Spoelstra wound up out-lasting every player on his roster, except Udonis Haslem.

Spoelstra is still the Heat coach, and given that Miami almost made the playoffs this past season despite featuring Dion Waiters in a key role, his job doesn’t look to be in danger. The Heat are probably glad they didn’t fire him after Game 5 in 2012.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.