Long before Miami, Spoelstra’s work ethic known
Erik Spoelstra has the Miami Heat aiming for a third consecutive appearance in the NBA Finals, but it was a life-altering decision nearly 20 years ago that set him on this path.
In 1995, Spoelstra had his choice of two job offers, and family seemingly on both sides of the fence.
Time to recognize Spoelstra’s rise to the top
This is what TV analyst and former coach Jeff Van Gundy said last June during Game 3 of the NBA Finals, before the fourth quarter, long before so much of the series’ drama still echoing as a new season moves into view:
“Erik Spoelstra is going to the Hall of Fame.”
When this is mentioned to Spoelstra after a Heat practice this week, he chuckles uncomfortably and says, “That’s hubris.” He returns to a more comfortable subject. Which is this season. Or, more precisely, habits.
Spoelstra’s words, Heat’s winning actions
Four seasons into the Miami Heat‘s Big Three era, there probably aren’t many more books, motivational methods or clichés from coach Erik Spoelstra that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh haven’t experienced.
They “held onto the rope” after a rough start during their first seasons together to get to the NBA Finals.
James, Wade and Bosh “owned it” a year later as the team overcame size limitations to win that 2011-12 title.
And they “keep the main thing the main thing” amid doubts about health and a 3-2 series deficit in the Finals last season to secure their second consecutive championship.
So following Saturday’s embarrassing home loss to the Boston Celtics that again exposed the Heat’s horrible defensive effort to start the season, Miami’s marquee players could have shrugged off Spoelstra’s hell-raising, chastising session to open Monday’s practice in preparation for Tuesday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Instead, Spoelstra’s voice resonated louder than ever.
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Players like Spoelstra’s looser reins on offense
It was one of the disconnects of last season.
Fans thought that Erik Spoelstra wasn’t creating enough structure on offense.
Players thought that, at times, there was too much.
It appears that Spoelstra has heard his players.
“We’re just going to get out there and flow into it,” Chris Bosh said. “We’re not going to make any calls. I think last year we were too bent on making calls, trying to run a specific play every time when the set can really just be free-flowing. And we have the basketball IQ to just go out there and play basketball. You can’t really scout it.”