LeBron James May Have Been a Coach Killer His Entire Career and We Just Didn't See It

By Stephen Douglas
Jan 27, 2016, 10:00 AM EST

LeBron James is now a coach-killer. Or least, he really wants to be. Fingers are pointing at LeBron in the firing of David Blatt. And now a Miami Heat minority owner has claimed that LeBron wanted Erik Spoelstra fired throughout his tenure in Miami and that was why he ended up leaving for Cleveland. Raanan Katz, who played professionally in Israel, was a panelist on an Israeli sports talk radio show to talk about Blatt’s firing when he shared this story about LeBron leaving Miami. Via Bleacher Report:

"“With the Miami Heat, LeBron James—before and after his four seasons when his contract was up with the team—made it clear that he wanted to dump head coach Erik Spoelstra. At one point, [Heat president] Pat Riley called LeBron into his office said that no one will tell him how to run the organization. Riley told James that Spoelstra is his guy and that firing Spoelstra is out of the question. That was the main reason LeBron returned to Cleveland.”"

LeBron the GM was vetoed by Pat Riley. While it’s not hard to believe that LeBron would have reservations about Spoelstra when he arrived in Miami – despite his years working under Riley – would he really dislike him so much that he would want to get rid of the guy who was in charge for four straight NBA Finals runs and won back-to-back titles?

[EDIT/UPDATE: While I doubt James was so anti-Coach Spo after the titles, there were multiple reports early in the 2010-2011 season suggesting their relationship got off to a rocky start.]

Miami, who should seemingly have no problem burying LeBron now that he’s gone, seem dubious about how much Katz could even actually know.

Meanwhile, the Sun Sentinel caught up with Katz and asked him exactly what he meant.

"“That was my opinion. I am very careful with what I say. I have no knowledge of what happened.”"

Or maybe the Heat reminded him that LeBron has a player option to leave the Cavs this summer?

Either way, Blatt wasn’t the first coach to be fired during LeBron’s time in Cleveland. During his first go-round with the Cavs, Mike Brown coached LeBron for five seasons. Brown was fired after the team’s collapse against the Boston Celtics in the second round of the 2010 playoffs. (Brown was due $4.5 million if not fired.) LeBron was waiting to make his free agency decision. If keeping Brown meant keeping LeBron, the Cavs never would have fired him.

Before the Brown era in Cleveland, LeBron played his first two seasons in Cleveland under Paul Silas.


Silas was fired with the Cavs holding a 34-30 record and sitting in the 5-seed during the 2004-2005 season. It was LeBron’s second year in the league and the team finished the season 8-10 under Brendan Malone and missed the playoffs. (The Nets took the 8th seed with the same 42-40 record.) Here’s part of the story about Silas’ firing. Via ESPN:

"The dismissal came with 18 games left and the team clinging to the fifth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. James seems to have been the only player who saw the move coming. “You could kind of tell the way the air was, how things were going around here, there was going to have to be a change,” said James, who scored a franchise-record 56 points Sunday. “I didn’t know it was going to be this soon.”"

Interesting wording. While this was less than two full years into LeBron’s career, he was already the face and future of the franchise and one of the best players in the NBA. LeBron James the player was unstoppable. And maybe without someone like Pat Riley in charge, there was no one that could stop LeBron the aspiring GM either.