THEY may be coming off a fiercely fought showdown in last season’s NBA playoffs, but Indiana coach Frank Vogel only has respect for Miami counterpart Erik Spoelstra who led the Heat to back-to-back championships.
Vogel pointed out that he and Fililipino-American coach Spoelstra both came up similar coaching routes, starting out as video coordinators to advance scout, assistant coach, and eventually becoming a full-time head coach.
“I have such great respect for Erik as a coach. The way he came up was a little bit similar starting in the video room to scouting, to becoming an assistant coach, we share that,” said Vogel, whose Pacers pushed the Heat to the limit before losing in seven grueling games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The 40-year-old Pacers coach said Spoelstra’s job comes with a lot of pressure due to the presence of three superstars he had to handle all season long, not to mention the high expectations from fans in South Beach.
“He (Spoelstra) gets not nearly enough credit for the job he’s done in the team. He’s got the toughest job in the NBA with expectations and dealing with superstars that they have there and making them jell together as a team,” noted Vogel.
“That’s why they won championships. Talent doesn’t win championships. You got to play as a team and he has been able to do that.”
Come the 2013-14 season, Vogel said the Heat remain as the team to beat owing to their solid nucleus of superstars led by reigning MVP Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and a host of veterans led by Ray Allen, Chris 'The Birdman' Andersen, and Shane Battier.
For now, Vogel said they are still figuring out how to stop the 6-foot-8 James, whose been dominant during the Heat’s back-to-back title runs.
“That’s a great question. I’m not sure (how Indiana can stop Lebron), but we’re gonna keep trying,” he said.
While the he expects the road to the championship to still pass through the Heat, Vogel said the Pacers will just have to keep believing, work hard, and fight for championship contention.
“I’m not sure what the Vegas odds are, but I know our guys keep believing. That’s all that matters for us.”