Erik Spoelstra was grinning from ear to ear shortly after his Miami Heat clinched the title against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“We remember last year, we wanted to make up for it,” Spoelstra told the jubilant crowd of 20,000 at American Airlines Arena.
The Heat lost in the NBA Finals last season to the Dallas Mavericks in six games, and Spoelstra said it was the team’s mission to get back to the top.
“We kept saying that it’s going to be the toughest thing we’ll ever do in our professional lives, to get back here and win four games,” said Spoelstra, who won a title as an assistant to Pat Riley with the Heat in 2006.
When ESPN anchor Stuart Scott asked him about his use of boxing metaphors, the Filipino-American Spoelstra name-checked a fight icon from his mother’s homeland.
“Everybody knows I’m a Manny Pacquiao fan, and there’s quite a few comparisons with the sport that our guys can relate to,” said Spoelstra, who visits the Philippines annually to reconnect with relatives and to promote the sport.
“We got knocked down to the canvas two or three times in this playoff run,” he added. “But what matters is that we got up.”