There has been all sorts of talk over the past few days about the lack of class that was exhibited by certain individuals during the recently completed NBA Finals. Tuesday, Dallas Mavericks bench boss Rick Carlisle may have defined the term “having class” while speaking with the media during the team’s exit interviews. Completely unsolicited Carlisle gave praise to his opposing head coach in the match-up Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra.
“ESPN.com” has reported that Carlisle interjected his thoughts about the Miami head coach just before wrapping things up with reporters. He said “Listen, I would like to say one thing about Miami if I could. I thought Erik Spoelstra had the toughest job in basketball with that team because of the way the team came together and because of the unbelievably high expectations. My hat’s off to Erik and the job he did. It was extremely difficult, extremely trying. We went through a lot of difficult times before we got to our moment. Their time will definitely come.”
In many ways Spoelstra was in a no-win situation this past season. All the success the team achieved during the campaign was credited to Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Yet by not winning the Finals as many NBA observers expected he gets to share the blame. There has already been speculation over whether Spoelstra could be dismissed this summer in order for Team President Pat Riley to return to the bench next season.
Carlisle had no obligation to give praise to his opposing coach. It is just a reflection of how much of a true professional that the Dallas head coach is. Many forget that Carlisle was dismissed by the Detroit Pistons after having success with the team so that they could hire Larry Brown who would take the team to an NBA Title in his first season. Detroit had no reason to let Carlisle go other than to get what they perceived to be a “coaching-upgrade” in the move. Maybe having gone through that experience made him more empathetic to what Spoelstra went through in Miami this past season.