Erik Spoelstra reveals what he did when LeBron James left Heat in 2014
LeBron James took his talents to South Beach in 2010, leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to form the Big Three with the Miami Heat. Alongside Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, the trio went on to claim a pair of NBA championships under head coach Erik Spoelstra, including LeBron’s first. Then, in a move that shook the basketball world, The King decided to return to his hometown Cavs in 2014.
James penned an essay for Sports Illustrated in July of that year. In closing, the Akron native wrote that he was “coming home.” He pledged to deliver the city of Cleveland its first NBA championship, and he delivered in 2016.
James’ decision to return home has been well-documented over the years. Spoelstra, who was enjoying the highlight of his career to that point, was sad to see his star player go. Still, he came to grips with the final resolution:
“I went through my own six-week reflection period that summer. But then you get back to work,” Spoelstra said, via Mark Medina of USA TODAY Sports.
Interestingly enough, James is now set to face the Heat in the 2020 NBA Finals as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. And even in his 17th season, the former No. 1 overall pick is proving that he is still the best player in the Association. As a testament to his outstanding court vision, he led the NBA in assists during the regular season with a whopping 10.2 per game. It was a feat he had never accomplished before.
Though he’s playing well, James knows he can’t sleep on the surging Heat. The respect between the two teams is mutual, though. In fact, after dispatching the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, Miami All-Star Jimmy Butler noted James’ longevity in the postseason:
“The main key, and it’s been like this for a very long time, if you want to win, you’re going to have to go through a LeBron James-led team,” Heat forward Jimmy Butler said, via SI.com. “At the end of the day, that’s what it normally comes down to.”
Spoelstra is also amazed by LeBron’s continued dominance at this stage of his career:
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on LeBron James: "He's seen everything. At this point in his career, it's just about winning. And his ability to do what he does at his age is incredibly uncommon. But there's a lot of work that
goes on behind the scenes to be able to maintain that."
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) September 29, 2020
Game 1 between the Heat and Lakers is set to tip at 9:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday night, with ABC having live broadcast coverage.
Will James claim his fourth championship ring, or will Pat Riley’s Heat hold off their former star?