May 2, 2013

Out of the spotlight, but the center of attention

Erik Spoelstra coaches talent at Miami, and has those players listening to him.

By TIM REYNOLDS The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Erik Spoelstra
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Erik Spoelstra has the Miami Heat closing in on a repeat NBA championship. And he’s doing it not just because of the talent, but because he’s always looking for that little edge.

The Associated Press

"When you think of what Spo's done, he not only won a title, he came back and changed the way they played," Rivers said. "That takes a lot of courage. He's young and was given a hell of a responsibility. He took it and ran with it."

When the Heat started 9-8 in the first season of the Wade, James and Bosh era, there were whispers Spoelstra was getting fired. When the Heat lost the 2011 NBA finals, the whispers returned. And when they entered last season's finals, again some suggested Spoelstra was coaching for his job.

Privately, Heat executives laugh at all those notions. Spoelstra said he has no desire to coach anywhere else, and the Heat seem like they wouldn't mind keeping him for as long as he wants to stick around.

"Really, it's one of the hardest jobs to do, to have to win," said Riley, now the Heat president. "Erik has to win and has to perform and his team has to perform. How this team has grown over the last three years, I think this has been his finest year as a coach."

Some of Spoelstra's players study the game's history closely, and are aware of the significance of things like back-to-back titles (only four franchises have done that in the last four decades) or winning four MVP awards in a five-year span (which James likely will when the league announces this year's voting later this month).

It's different for coaches, Spoelstra said. Personal legacy is about the last thing on his mind.

"Coaching is survival in this league," Spoelstra said. "You're just thinking you want to keep your current position as long as you can. With this group, that's my attitude. I'm grateful for this opportunity with this team and I wouldn't want to coach anywhere else or any other team. That keeps anything in perspective for me."


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