Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said there will be no extra motivation Monday night in trying to beat the Memphis Grizzlies, who fired his close friend and former assistant coach David Fizdale two weeks ago.
But it was hard to really believe him.
“We’re coaching for something bigger right now with our team, but certainly I still feel for Fiz and unfortunately what he had to go through here,” said Spoelstra of Fizdale, who spent eight years as an assistant under him. “I had lunch with him this afternoon. That’s my brother.
“You want him to have a fair shot at it and to be able to go through some tough times, some adverse times, through a transition period that the organization was going through. And that’s what the thought was – that there would be a transition and an opportunity to build a different culture. Unfortunately he wasn't given that opportunity.”
Fizdale, 43, was fired after the Grizzlies started the season 7-12. Memphis (8-18) has lost 14 out of its last 15 games. Speculation after Fizdale’s firing on Nov. 27 was that his relationship with All-Star center Marc Gasol was very rocky and it led to his dismissal.
“Fiz is a star,” Spoelstra, 47, said. “So he’s going to get another opportunity in any field. He can go in this guy’s field [pointing to Heat TV sideline reporter Jason Jackson]. He can go in my field. He can choose where he wants to go. Hopefully he spends some time in Miami with us in the spring in-between his pina coladas and beach time and all that.”
Fizdale flew into Memphis on Sunday after spending time at his home in Los Angeles, and returned to Memphis in part to complete the sale of his home. He took advantage and caught up with Spoelstra and the Heat staff at the same time on Monday.
Fizdale led the Grizzlies to a 43-39 record last season before losing to the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs, four games to two.
His career record as a head coach is 50-51. He was part of the last two championship teams with the Heat.