In joining the Vertical Pod with Adrian Wojnarowski, Fizdale dropped some juicy nuggets from his days with the Miami Heat during the Big Three Era, including how he thought Pat Riley was going to fire him and Erik Spoelstra back in 2010.
“We were 9-8 — I’ll never forget it,” Fizdale said. “Pat came down. All of this chatter was Pat’s coming out of the front office to [coach] and Pat came down and he sat in the office with us, with Spo and I, and he smiled at us and he said, ‘I’m not coaching this damn team.’
“He said, ‘I watch you guys work every single day and you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do to build championship habits and I like what I see. And obviously, Spo and I thought he was coming down to fire us that day but it just felt great to know he had our backs like that and from that point on we ended up winning 22 out of 23 and all of the chatter went away.”
Stan Van Gundy wasn’t so lucky!
Fiz was gushing with other interesting quotes, including dropping a Spoism about not letting go of the rope.
On being an assistant versus head coach: “When I was working for Spo I was Mr. Suggestions. I was throwing out suggestions left, right, 100 suggestions and as an assistant that’s easy. That’s your job to, to give him as many ideas as possible but ultimately when you take that [head coaching] seat you start to understand how mindful you have to be and how thoughtful you have to be of every decision you make.”
On working in the Heat’s video room: “That video room was a beast and especially a Miami video room. That’s why I said, nothing better could have happened to my career than going to that video room with Spo. I think that’s where my frustration was at more than anything when people kept saying I’m a relationships guy. I’m like wait a minute. I’m a video guy. I’m a video grunt… I went through the whole process the right way.”
On the Grizz’s hot start — without Mike Conley — and his mindset: “I’m still pissed off about some of the losses we’ve had since he’s been out. I was really upset with our team, that we lost in Toronto and we were close in that game and we let go of the rope… It’s just my makeup and maybe I’m delusional but I just think we should win every game and that’s something that Pat instilled in us in Miami that your approach and your mindset is always the same no matter who’s on the court for you. That you go after the win no matter what.”