Coach Spo Got to Go: It’s Time For The Tony Fiorentino Era

Commentary6 years ago5 min readJack Alfonso

Anybody who follows me on Twitter (@AlfonsoHoops) knows that I am a huge fan of Erik Spoelstra. As a fellow Latino, it has been inspiring for me to see him rise through the ranks of the Miami HEAT organization and become the first Mexican head coach in NBA history to win a championship.

His work with the Big 3 was admirable and he was able to lead an unlikely band of misfits to two NBA titles, but unfortunately those days are long gone. With the HEAT sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings this season despite a star-studded roster, it has become clear that the NBA game has passed Coach Spo.


Erik Spoelstra is the second-longest tenured coach in the NBA and is still one of the 10 youngest.

Unfortunately, it’s time for Miami to move on and find a coach who can lead the franchise into the future. Miami needs a coach with a knowledge of the culture. Someone experienced, yet energetic. Someone who can connect with players and fans alike. Someone whose entire identity is coaching. Someone like Miami HEAT color commentator Tony Fiorentino.

Coach Tony is the perfect fit to replace Spoelstra. He watches and analyzes every game, so you know he is familiar with the team. He can also be a great motivational coach, bringing personality and positivity to the locker room like he’s brought to the broadcast for so many years. Spoelstra always looks angry during games, disappointed in his team’s effort or upset about defensive breakdowns.


Tony Fiorentino has been involved with the HEAT organization since it entered the NBA, joining the team in 1988 as an assistant coach under Ron Rothstein.

This may have worked way back in 2012, but in these modern times, we know that negativity is no way to win basketball games. Fiorentino spends broadcasts praising players constantly, whether it’s for a strong rebound or for a bad jumper that was a good decision because the player “practices that shot.” Coach Tony would encourage players through their failures and their minor achievements, elevating team morale so much that the players would be able to dominate games based on happiness alone.

We’ve seen guys like Hassan Whiteside display poor body language and lackluster effort in games from time to time, and this is clearly the fault of Spoelstra. It is a coach’s job to motivate his players to perform as well as possible. Replacing Spo’s grumpy face and perpetually crossed arms with Coach Tony’s infectious personality and tremendous mustache would undoubtedly turn Whiteside’s career around and help him become the dominant superstar center that everyone hopes he can become.

Furthermore, Miami needs a coach who understands the modern NBA and the increased reliance on analytics and advanced stats.


Erik Spoelstra (25) wasn’t the A/V type, but found himself in charge of the HEAT’s video department. He was hired as the HEAT’s video coordinator in 1995.

As we all know, Spoelstra began his career as a video coordinator, looking at game tape and learning how to coach by watching how games are played. This was a fine strategy back in the dark ages when VHS was prominent and nobody knew what PER or VORP was.

In the modern NBA, game tape has become obsolete and advanced stats have made watching games a waste of time. Fiorentino understands this. We’ve seen Coach Tony become so focused on statistical research that it distracts him from the broadcast.

Fiorentino has no time to watch five men try to put a round ball in a hoop. He knows that humanity has progressed beyond this barbaric form of entertainment and that numbers are the only things that matter. Spoelstra may know what a “pick-and-roll” is, but in 2016 that knowledge is completely useless. To win championships, you need to have a firm grasp of stats. Tony has that.

Christmas is right around the corner, and it is never easy to fire a person around the holiday season. But at 10-21, Miami needs to make this coaching change as quickly as possible if they want to have any chance of making the playoffs. Stubbornness and complacency are two things that can absolutely kill a franchise.

We’ve seen this in San Antonio. The Spurs organization’s stupid loyalty to the ancient Gregg Popovich made NBA legend Tim Duncan so frustrated that he quit basketball at the young age of 40.


Teamed with Eric Reid as the color analyst on all HEAT Sun Sports telecasts, the duo of Fiorentino-Reid currently forms the only broadcasting team in the NBA that has been employed by their team since its inception.

We’ve even seen this in Miami with Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Michael Beasley, James Ennis, Mario Chalmers and Chris Bosh. Plenty of superstars have abandoned the HEAT organization due to their foolish inability to realize that Spoelstra isn’t the right fit for Miami.

Even longtime assistant coach David Fizdale left Miami for Memphis because he was smart enough to understand that the organization is a sinking ship. The Miami HEAT are the Titanic, and Erik Spoelstra is the iceberg. Or the Captain. Or Leonardo DiCaprio. #FireSpo