Phil Jackson: Making Things Look Easy
Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson gestures during a practice session in Barcelona October 6, 2010. The Lakers will play against Barcelona in an NBA Europe Live basketball game at Palau Sant Jordi on Thursday. REUTERS/Albert Gea (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)


Now, this next part might be jumping the gun, but it’s worth taking a look at the early season struggles of the Miami Heat as an example of how difficult it can be to have an assembly of stars and create from them a cohesive, winning basketball team.

True, it’s not fair to judge a team based on one-eighth of an NBA season, but it is fair to point to their mediocre 6-4 start as proof that coaching plays a vital role in team success, no matter the personnel. Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh were ready to join forces and start their winning ways immediately. So far, it’s not happening that way. The Heat has struggled in most games against top-tier teams (save for that rout of the Orlando Magic), including losing twice to the Boston Celtics.

And while all of this doesn’t 100% prove anything, it does add sentiment to the fact that being handed a group of superstars does not make the head coaching job easy.

Coach Erik Spoelstra has a full combination plate of talent and challenge ahead of him this season. And with the expectations and hype as high and loud as they were, he’s no doubt feeling the pressure of those four early losses already.

As the Heat continue to figure out how to play effectively together, they’ll need strong leadership to maximize teamwork, minimize ego and ultimately, win games, playoff series and championships. It remains to be seen if Spoelstra is a capable enough coach for the job.

In the meantime, on the West coast, a coach using his seasoned expertise, zen-passioned approach and natural talent will lead his team as it vies for another three-peat. And if victorious—even with all of the Lakers’ star power—the championship will have a lot to do with his leadership.

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