MIAMI (CBSMiami) – He’s never won NBA Coach of the Year, but Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra has had the last laugh as the leader of the back-to-back champions.
Spoelstra may have been blessed with the Big Three, including the greatest player in the game, LeBron James. However, the stress of dealing with the noise and everything else going with the Heat in the last three years has been overcome by Spoelstra’s leadership.
Still, Erik knows just how valuable arguably the greatest player in NBA history is to the organization.
“He is the best conditioned athlete in this game. He takes pride and puts in so much time into it,” Spoelstra said of LeBron.”
Spoelstra deployed LeBron in a multitude of ways trying to shut down a solid San Antonio Spurs offense that had run through the Western Conference.
“He was guarding Parker, Ginobili, whoever was the most dangerous threat and then had to create so much offensively as well. He probably lost 12-15 pounds in this playoff run expending so much energy.”
For Spoelstra, one of the biggest decisions he had to make was to alter the lineup when Udonis Haslem struggled and the Heat needed a spark.
Spoelstra turned to Mike Miller in the NBA Finals, passing over forward Shane Battier who had struggled throughout the playoffs.
But in Game 7, Spoelstra made the decision to go to Battier and in the biggest game of the season, the NBA veteran came through with 18 points on 6-8 shooting from behind the three-point line.
“He is so important to what we do,” Spoelstra said of Battier. “The guy has one at every single level, high school, college, pro. It’s not a coincidence. He has something running through those veins that separates him, that makes him a little bit different as a champion.”
While Coach Spoelstra may not be considered as one of the league’s best coaches in some circles, he’s leaving a mark on the Miami Heat franchise and NBA history that will be tough to top.
With two championships under his belt and three NBA Finals appearances, the sky is the limit with the duo of LeBron James on the floor and Erik Spoelstra pulling the strings as head coach.
Complete 2013 NBA Championship Coverage:
- Role Players Swing Game For Heat
- Wade Etches Name In NBA History
- Heat Championship Parade Set For Monday
- Miami Completes The Heat-Peat, 95-88
- LeBron Wins 2nd Straight NBA Finals MVP