MIAMI - The NBA's coach of the year was fired before the finals even started.
The NBA's coach of the month for November was fired in December.
There's decreasing job security in the league, something that the two coaches in the NBA Finals lamented before their teams squared off in Game 1 on Thursday night.
The Denver Nuggets parted ways with coach George Karl on Thursday, just a few weeks after he was honored as the league's top coach. When Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra finished second, he half-seriously joked about avoiding the curse that has befallen recent recipients of that honor.
Of the last nine winners of the award, six have been fired — a combined eight times. If Memphis moves on from Lionel Hollins, a strong possibility, six of the 16 coaches who led their teams to the playoffs this season will be gone.
"That's a tough state for our business and where it is right now," Spoelstra said shortly after learning of Karl's departure. "That just doesn't correlate to an objective mind. People's expectations are way off or (they're) just not looking at it really objectively."
So now, the NBA Finals have two of the three coaches with the longest tenure with their current clubs. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has been with the Spurs since 1996, Doc Rivers with the Boston Celtics since 2004, and Spoelstra with Miami since 2008.
"That is scary," Spoelstra said.
Commissioner David Stern said he thinks that the new collective bargaining agreement, which was negotiated to try to give all markets large and small a better chance to be competitive, may be contributing to the even more volatile climate for coaches. Expectations are higher than ever.
"Because they're feeling the pressure of a system that allows them to draft players, sign free agents, get revenue sharing," Stern said before Game 1. "And they better look at themselves in the mirror if they can't compete and be competitive at the gate as well."
Popovich has always been close with Karl and said he was disappointed to hear the news of his firing. But he also knows that this is the way of life for NBA coaches, and it's been that way for quite some time.
"It's a pretty volatile job being the head coach in the NBA," Popovich said. "But nobody makes us do it. If you've got a job in the NBA, you know it's pretty volatile. It's a fact. The grass is greener, for the most part. The sky is kind of blue. And that's the way it is."