Erik Spoelstra grows into coaching role
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
MIAMI — For a coach who repeats his aphorisms so often they become clichés — those around his team call them Spo-isms — the Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra avoided one of the all-time coaching clichés.
So many coaches after winning a championship say they are the same coach today as they were the day before they won a title.
Coaching for a Hall of Famer in Heat President Pat Riley and coaching future Hall of Famers in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen and possibly Chris Bosh, Spoelstra knows he cannot be the same coach he was last season — just as he knew last season he could not be the same coach as in 2010-11.
As Spoelstra asks his players to evolve, he will do the same. After the 2010-11 season, he met with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, Indiana coach Tom Crean, Florida coach Billy Donovan, Oregon football coach Chip Kelly and now-Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer.
This past offseason, he met with Donovan again and spoke to Cincinnati football coach Butch Jones, Oregon women’s basketball coach and former NBA coach Paul Westhead and Vance Walberg, who is credited with creating the dribble-drive offense.
“We still have to find a way to get better as a staff, to be better for our team and then to push our players to do the same,” Spoelstra told USA TODAY Sports.
It wasn’t winning a championship that pushed Spoelstra into that philosophy. Losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals did it.
“That experience definitely motivated me to become a better coach and for our staff to become better and more equipped that hopefully, if we ever got in that situation again, that we would have learned from that painful experience,” he said. “I use that all the time all year long with our team. Experience is the best teacher.
“Painful experiences can be the most powerful teacher. Success can be a horrible teacher.”
For all of the criticism Spoelstra took in the first few months of the first season with James, Wade and Bosh, he has shaped a championship team. Anxiety surrounded the Heat in 2010-11. … [For more on Erik Spoelstra grows into role coaching LeBron James, Heat, click here.]