MIAMI – Heat coach Erik Spoelstra says he does not get emotional about much, except when a close friend who he had worked with for 13 years, grew together as coach and player, and become like family, returns.
In fact, the emotion of the moment may be so overwhelming that Spo said he does not know if he will watch the video the Miami Heat plan to play of Dwyane Wade when the most popular player in franchise history returns tonight for his first game against the Heat since signing with the Chicago Bulls.
Spo though has a built in excuse.
“I’ll probably be in the huddle,” said. “I don’t get emotional about anything expect for these kinds of things.”
The video is schedule run during the first time out of the game.
Spoelstra was asked (again) about his emotions with Wade’s homecoming now just hours away and his friendship.
“Who knows?,” he said. “There will be emotion I know that. There’s not a text book on this. I don’t know what to expect. I think it will be great. I think there will be electricity in the building, I think there will be great response to Dwyane as there should be. I’m expecting pretty much all the above.”
Spoelstra has been through several tributes, the most recent for LeBron James, Mike Miller, James Jones and Mario Chalmers. But nothing will top the emotion of tonight.
“This is different,” he said. “I don’t want to take away from anybody else that’s had something like this but that’s a long time to be working with somebody together and growing together and getting to know a player and his family. You share so much love for a player. I can only speak for myself. I haven’t been through something like this before.”
Spo was asked about the first time he met Wade:
“Would have been his draft workout,” he said. “His draft workout was so uneventful. You saw his tape in the NCAA run. I remember we were all watching film of him back then and he was electrifying during that tournament. A one man wrecking crew that put a team on his back. … You could see his multitude of talents.
“Fast forward to his draft workout. ‘This is that guy?’ Then as you got to know him you realized ‘yeah, he’s the kind of guy you need 10 players out there. …’ That’s when you see him rise to most levels most players can’t get to. But that’s not happening on a 1 on 0 workout.”