The 2020 NBA Finals will feature two of the most iconic teams in the NBA. The LA Lakers and the Miami Heat are expected to put on an all-time great series to determine who will be the champions of this unique NBA season.
A lot of factors can be attributed as to why this will be a series to remember. There is the fact that this is the first time that the Lakers made it to the Finals since the late great Kobe Bryant won them their last title in 2010. LeBron James, who is in the twilight of his career, wants to win it to honor the memory of his dear friend the Black Mamba.
Another factor would be this is the rise of the Heat once again after James left back in 2014. There is also the rise of the underdogs as many of the current members of the Heat have been overlooked all their lives.
But one factor that has caught my eyes is the fact that this will be the first series in six years that Miami’s head coach Erik Spoelstra and Lakers’ head coach Frank Vogel will meet in a series after their memorable duels in the East from 2012-2014.
At that time, everything was very different.
In 2012, Vogel was still the man in the sidelines for the Indiana Pacers. He had an underrated star in Danny Granger, a young upcoming superstar in Paul George, two crafty point guards in Darren Collison and George Hill, a veteran leader in David West, a productive Roy Hibbert and unknown kid that turned out to be a hell of a piece for a title contending team in Lance Stephenson.
As for Spoelstra, he was looking to prove himself at that time after losing in the 2011 NBA Finals to the Dallas Mavericks. Having “The Heatles” in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on his squad, it was a championship or bust for Miami at that time and everyone knew it.
The two squads faced off in the second round of the 2012 playoffs and the Heat took the series in six games, then won the title. The Pacers, though, showed that they would be a hurdle that teams had to worry about.
2013 saw Vogel’s ability to improve his teams. After giving the keys to George as the new star in Indiana, they took the Heat to seven games in the Easter Conference. However, Spoelstra’s high level coaching still helped Miami’s Big 3 take the series away and bag their second-consecutive title.
2014 was the final chapter of the two teams’ short-lived rivalry. It was the last season of the Heatles and Vogel and the Pacers felt that it was their time to strike. Unfortunately, Spoelstra and the Heat had other things in mind and showed their dominance and took the series in six games before losing to the San Antonio Spurs in a rematch during the NBA Finals.
During those times, the two courtside generals solidified themselves as some of the most elite coaches in the league. The 47-year-old Vogel has coached the All-Star games twice (2014 and 2020), he also went on to coach for the Orlando Magic from 2016-2018 before signing with the Lakers in 2019.
The Filipino-American Coach, on the other hand, has racked up accolades too. Aside from Coaching in the 2013 All-Star game, he was also awarded with the Coach of the Year award in 2017 by the National Basketball Coaches Association (NBCA).
During the first three chapters of their rivalry, Spoelstra was seen as the one with the upper hand because he was coaching a super team with three future Hall of Famers and eventually added another one in Ray Allen.
Vogel was the underdog as he only had George as a star at that time, with the rest of his team being considered all high-quality role players. Hibbert showed flashes of star potential but quickly, almost inexplicably, fell off a cliff.
Fast forward to 2020, the two coaches will meet once again but this time, the tables have turned. Vogel now has the more dominant, super team. He has arguably the league’s most unstoppable duo of James and Anthony Davis.
Spoelstra currently has the underdog team with guys like Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic, Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro as some of the key guys for Miami.
There is certainly a mutual respect between the two head coaches. Back in 2016, when Vogel was fired from the Indiana Pacers, Spoelstra was vocal about the circumstances of his rival’s firing.
With the two strategists set to meet once again after their history, the series is certainly must see. Game 1 of the series will be on October 1 at 9:00 AM Manila time.