MIAMI – When Erik Spoelstra looked back on his first season with LeBron James in Miami, the Heat coach remembered trying his best not to get in the way.
"I'm just trying not to mess it up," Spoelstra said about the 2010-11 season when James and Chris Bosh worked with Dwyane Wade in the third season when Spoelstra was head coach. "And I'm in survival mode. I don't want to get in the way and I find a way to get in the way. And we lose [to Dallas, 4-2, in the NBA Finals] our first year. "
Now, Luke Walton finds himself in the same situation as Spoelstra: training James in the first season of the star with a new team while Walton only entered his third season as head coach. Spoelstra, though, gave Walton firm support as "the perfect man to train" the Lakers and James.
The Lakers didn't score from Lonzo Ball, and their defense offered little resistance against the Magic.
"I told you [Walton] the same thing I will tell others, "Spoelstra said before James returned to Miami for the first time as a member of the Lakers on Sunday." He's the perfect person to train the team. He has purple and gold bleeding from him. He is a Laker. He did extraordinary work with Golden State when he had to take over for Steve [Kerr].
"And if you look at his entire professional career, all of them [it] he has been involved with a team like this with great hopes, with lots of pressure and lots of noise, "continued Spoelstra." He doesn't know anything. I don't think you can find a better one to train that team. "
Shortly after the Lakers signed James at a free agent, Walton contacted several former James coaches such as Ty Lue and Spoelstra.
"We really talk good," Walton said. "We talked for a few hours. And he was great."
Walton and Spoelstra did not just enter their third season as head coach when they first got James, but both of them began to be rash with James. In Miami, James and Spoelstra started 9-8 before winning 12 in a row and finally went to the NBA Finals.
By coincidence, in James's first season in Miami (2010-11), his first season was back with Cleveland (2014-15) and now his first year in Los Angeles, the All-Star team started all three seasons 8-7.
There was a lot of tension as long as it began in Miami as the famous James hit Spoelstra during a timeout. The Lakers had played their part in early dramas such as Magic Johnson, president of Lakers basketball operations, denounced Walton during meetings after the Lakers opened 2-5.
Walton also had to endure a multi-game suspension Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram to fight the Houston Rockets in the second game of the season and Rondo now has to miss maybe one month or more with the third right metacarpal cracked.
However, Spoelstra, not only thought things would stabilize under Walton's guidance given the resume of the Walton championship as a player under Phil Jackson and assistant under Kerr, but because of James's greatness.
"He is eternal," said Spoelstra about James, who entered Sunday with an average of 27.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.2 assists. "… I just think you can order it every year – 27, 8 and 7. No matter what uniform, no matter what year, no matter how old it is. Consistency is a talent that is as big as any physical or mental talent and he is a star five in all of that. "