MIAMI — Erik Spoelstra was in a good mood Wednesday morning when voting results were announced for NBA Coach of the Year.
That’s because he didn’t win.
“I congratulate George Karl. I know he didn’t want it either,’’ said Spoelstra, the Miami Heat coach who finished second behind Karl, who won the award for the Denver Nuggets.
There has been a jinx associated with the award considering a number of coaches have been fired or ended up resigning not long after winning it. Between 2005-09, four straight coaches handed the trophy — Dallas’ Avery Johnson, Toronto’s Sam Mitchell, New Orleans’ Byron Scott and Cleveland’s Mike Brown— were gone within two years.
“I think (coaches are) probably aware of the stigma and the jinx,’’ Spoelstra said. “I’m not very superstitious but all coaches, I think you guys understand that award. It’s not quite as definitive as the (Sports Illustrated cover) jinx but it’s pretty close.’’
Actually, though, the previous three coaches to have won the award don’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. Oklahoma City’s Scott Brooks won in 2009-10, Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau in 2010-11 and San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich last season.
In winning his first award for Coach of the Year in his 25 seasons on the bench, Karl, who steered the Nuggets to a 57-25 record, received 62 of 121 possible first-place votes from a national media panel and 404 total points. Spoelstra, who led the Heat to an NBA-best 66-16 mark, got 24 first-place votes and 190 points.
Spoelstra’s runner-up finish came a year after he didn’t receive a single vote in balloting after the 2011-12 season. Spoelstra, whose Heat went 46-20 during the lockout-shortened season, was then the only coach in either conference with a top-six playoff seed to not get even a third-place vote.
“I don’t know if that shows anything,’’ said Spoelstra, who steered the Heat to the 2012 title, when asked what a difference a year has made. “I don’t give it much thought.’’
New York’s Mike Woodson finished third behind Karl and Spoelstra with six first-place votes and 127 points. Popovich was fourth with 11 first-place votes and 120 points.
Jinx or not, the immediate bad news for Karl is he’s the only one of the top eight coaches in the voting whose team already has been eliminated from the playoffs. Denver might have lost 4-2 to Golden State in the first round, but Spoelstra commended Karl on the Nuggets’ regular season.
“They had a phenomenal year,’’ Spoelstra said. “I enjoyed watching their games. Late at night, often times I’d throw on a Denver game.’’
Spoelstra appeared thankful the Nuggets won enough games for him to not get the award.
“I’m probably more pleased this morning than George Karl,’’ Spoelstra quipped.