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LeBron James says Erik Spoelstra deserves more credit for Heat success

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LeBron James disagreed with the premise of the question.

Why isn’t the Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra considered in the upper echelon of coaches?

In James’ view, players and other coaches know full well how good Spoelstra is as a coach.

“It’s been you guys that have changed the narrative or never given Spo his respect because he had D-Wade or he had myself or he had [Chris] Bosh,” James said, including a reference to all-star guard Dwyane Wade. “But a lot of coaches have talent. A lot of coaches have had talent over the course of this league. It’s not one.

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Lakers star LeBron James will face his former team and Heat president Pat Riley will take on the club he coached to some of their biggest wins in the NBA Finals.

“It’s unfortunate that he hasn’t gotten his respect. Every time we talked about Spo when I was there and we talked about how great he prepared us, and we talked about how great it was playing for Spo and things of that nature, you guys always said, well, you have LeBron, you have D-Wade, you have Bosh; any coach can do it. No, any coach can’t do it. If any coach could do it, then there would be a lot more champions in this league. There would be a lot more successful coaches.”

James spent four seasons playing for Miami and Spoelstra, and although there were murmurs at first that he hoped Heat executive Pat Riley would take over, James has denied there was friction. Spoelstra remained the coach, and Miami went to four NBA Finals in their four seasons together and won two championships.

Jimmy Butler might not have been a good fit for the Lakers or Clippers in the free-agent search of 2019, but he has found a home in Miami with win-first attitude.

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Now James is one of Spoelstra’s biggest champions.

“Spo likes it,” James said. “That’s what fuels Spo, is the disrespect that you guys give him, the basketball world. I’m not going to sit up here and act like I don’t know what Spo is all about, because he’s damned good, if not great. Probably ... great because of his preparation. He prepares like it’s his last time ever coaching again, every game, and I know that.”


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