James, Wade, Bosh ... and Spoelstra?When the Miami Heat assembled their “Big Three” four years ago, skeptics wondered if Erik Spoelstra, the head coach, would be able to mold all that talent into an effective team.
With the two-time defending champion Heat set to compete in a fourth consecutive NBA finals starting on Thursday, Spoelstra has silenced the cynics.
No one would now suggest that All-Stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh cannot play as a team or that the Heat’s supporting cast isn’t up to scratch.
The likes of Chris Andersen, Norris Cole and Ray Allen all have made vital contributions.
Strangely, Spoelstra still gets little recognition, but his technical and tactical skills as a coach have been matched by his man-management skills.
Miami had troubles during the 2013-4 season, particularly in the home stretch and playoffs.
But Spoelstra, 43, has drawn on his roster depth and the abundance of options at his disposal.
For Spoelstra, much of Miami’s success can be put down to the team spirit that has emerged since James, a four-time NBA Most Valuable Player, joined them.
“We have a group that’s earned a lot of trust with each other. There’s a lot of equity of going through pain, of going through joy, of going through everything in between. I mean, this is your extended family,” said Spoelstra. “Even the guys who haven’t been with us for the four years, what we say to them when they join our team is you inherit all of the experiences we’ve had before. All the pain, all the joy, you inherit that, and you’re part of the family.”
For a team with such star quality there have been few hints of discord and plenty of resilience.
“If you have that trust, when you go through tough times and you’re going at it, you actually gain something from it. When we were going through some of the rough stretches this regular season, I kind of liked it,” said Spoelstra.
“Guys wanted to win. We had to deal with some injuries and different lineups and all those type of things and the struggle of closing out games. Ultimately, I think that helps you grow.”
It helps, of course, when you have the game’s best player of the current era in James, three-time NBA champion Wade, nine-time All-Star Bosh and the NBA’s all-time 3-point leader in Allen.