Why Heat coach Eric Spoelstra has respect for LeBron James


Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler wore the Rocky’s high school jersey to the team’s practice the next day, celebrating Tyler Harrow’s outbreak of 37 points in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

After the Heat gained a spot in the NBA Finals after two games, Butler dug even deeper into his closet for the perfect sartorial tribute – the University of Portland Jersey with Eric Spoelstra’s name and number on the back.

Butler said on the eve of his NBA Finals on Tuesday, “I’ve got a lot of jerseys in my room – it’s just the right time to take them out.” “But Spo has been huge for me in my development as a player, as a leader, as a human being, so I am grateful to him.”

Spoelstra’s journey to a spot with the NBA’s best coaches is well chronicled. He, like Lakers coach Frank Vogel, began working from inside NBA film rooms, with a rival executive joking that there had never been a better time to try to get publicity for the video coordinator.

Prior to this he played in Portland, where he was an all-conference point guard who was on the court on the night with Hunk Gathers of Loyola Marymount and died in 1990 during a game.

He did his job from that film room to become one of the most trusted assistants with Pat Riley’s Heat. The two still work in a total concert – Spoelstra calls Riley “The Godfather” – in planning to win. Even he is getting praise from his former player and current competition.

LeBron James defended Spoelstra from any disrespect coming together in Miami, when pundits thought James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh could coach anyone.

“If you look at the Miami Heat, no matter who is on the floor, they are going to play heat culture. They are going to work hard. They are going to play together. He has always said about James. “It’s you people who have changed the plot or never paid their respects to Spo because he was de-waded or had it himself or he had Bosh. But a lot of coaches have talent. … It is unfortunate that he did not get his honor. Every time we talked about Spo, when I was there and we talked about how much he prepared us, and we talked about how well it’s playing for Spo and things of that nature, So you guys always say, ‘Well, you are Lebron, D-Wade, you have Bosh. Any coach can. ‘

“No, no coach can do that. If any coach can do that, there will be many more champions in this league. ”

It’s a different message that James allegedly pushed 17 games into his time with the Heat, when the team was 9-8 and there were rumors that James was done with Spoelstra, in 2008 at the age of 37 Riley had a hand-picked successor.

In Ian Thomson’s book “The Soul of Basketball: Leaving the NBA between Lebron, Kobe, Doc and Dirk,” Riley said that James asked him if he ever had an “itch” to get him back on the sideline for. Riley believed in Spoelstra and remained an executive as the team won two championships during its four visits to the finals.

Spoelstra has been a consistent on the road, competitive Heat with less talent. It has been an organizational directive – keep trying to win.

“It’s extremely important that everyone is on the same page, top to bottom. I’m in this league for a long time, and it’s rare,” said Heat veteran Udonis Haslem. “Usually you have one or two locker rooms. The ones that you have to persuade to bring with you. But I think from start to end, I think all our people are committed to doing the same things, the right things. When you fight for the championship When people are trying, people don’t always talk about that you don’t have good days.

“There are going to be some dark nights. Some confusion. And there is going to be frustration. But we forecasted all those storms. ”

Spoelstra said that time with James forced him to adapt, to become more comfortable in the spotlight. This gave Spoelstra a taste of winning at the highest level.

“I am just very grateful that I had the opportunity to be able to travel and grow with that group. It was a wonderful team, and everything that came about it, ”he said. “In many ways, just my personality, I hated it. I’m an introvert, but I think it was good to go through it. Sometimes even as a professional, just get out of your comfort zone and embrace it to see what happens when you’re on the other side of it.

“It feels like a completely different chapter in my life. But I’m really grateful to be around those special players. He was committed to coming together to compete for group titles. ”

And now he is leading another group with the same priority.

That particular jersey that Butler dug did not remind the Heat that their coach had once played. They already see it in every practice, where they have earned their total confidence.

“Whether he played or not, his knowledge of the game is unmatched,” Haslem said. “His leadership is second to none. And we have faith and trust in him. ”

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