Dwyane Wade's respect for Erik Spoelstra

April, 21, 2011
4/21/11
4:03
PM ET
Abbott By Henry Abbott
ESPN.com
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In ESPN The Magazine, Kevin Arnovitz writes about how Dwyane Wade came to hold Erik Spoelstra in such high regard:
During Wade's first two NBA seasons he struggled with his jump shot. Spoelstra would work him out incessantly, forcing him to establish more balance on his shot and learn to absorb contact. "We worked a lot of hours," Wade says. "You saw that he knew the game and was a hard worker. He gave me the confidence to think, I can do it. I used to do my 1-2 step-in, and he would literally shove me so I could learn how to shoot with contact. And once I got that done, he made me do it with a shot fake, which is even harder."

Fast forward to Nov. 19, 2004, the night Wade truly bought into Spoelstra. The Heat and Jazz were deadlocked at 105 with 4.5 seconds left in overtime. Wade received the inbounds pass and got separation from Raja Bell three feet inside the arc. He rose, released and connected as time expired. "It was the exact shot we'd been working on," Wade says. "I hit the game-winner, and I remember looking over at him, smiling and thinking, This is working."

(The play in question on grainy video.)

The story begins when Spoelstra was a video intern for the team, who worked himself silly getting the coaches just what they wanted. Former colleague -- and current Magic coach -- Stan Van Gundy has a killer quote:
"Very early in his career, we all knew he'd end up where he is," says Van Gundy, now the Magic head coach. "I don't think anyone is surprised that he's gone to that level. Erik might say he's surprised, but no one else in that organization is."

Henry Abbott | email

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