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Heat’s Erik Spoelstra surprised by recent round of coach firings, calls Doc Rivers’ dismissal ‘disturbing’

Prior to the Miami Heat defeating the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra discussed the recent round of coach firings in the NBA.

Since the start of the NBA Playoffs, four big-name head coaches have been dismissed, with three of them having an NBA championship to their name.

The latest casualty was Doc Rivers, who was fired by the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday after three seasons. 


“It’s disturbing,” Spoelstra said Tuesday. “I mean, Doc’s a Hall of Famer. It’s what [Heat GM] Andy [Elisburg] always says, you get past the first round, there’s going to be some really good teams. Great players, great organizations, great coaching staffs that are going to lose. 

“It’s part of the nature of this beast. There’s only so many teams that can advance. It’s just a really hard thing to do. It’s been a tough couple weeks, hearing the news of some really surprising firings.”

Rivers was fired after taking the Sixers to three consecutive conference semifinals and after 54 regular season wins, the most for the franchise since the 2000-2001 season. 

The round of dismissals started on April 21 when Toronto Raptors fired Nick Nurse after five seasons. 


Nurse led the Raptors to the NBA championship in 2019. 

Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer was next, fired after five seasons and winning the championship in 2021. 

The one-seeded Bucks lost to the Heat in five games in the first round. 

Then, it was Monty Williams’ turn, fired by the Phoenix Suns following four seasons and after winning the NBA’s Coach of the Year in 2022. 

On Monday, Spoelstra said Miami has been able to sustain their run of success due to keeping the same culture in place. 

“It takes so much time and energy to restart something,” Spoelstra said. “And I think that’s part of the reason why we’ve been able to reboot so many times, over and over and over. We’re not reinventing a new culture and then trying to teach everybody and then all of a sudden, two years later, it’s going to be somebody else doing the exact same thing.”


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