Heat coach Erik Spoelstra happy to see Hornets’ Steve Clifford back on bench

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra yells to the officials during the Heat’s victory at Indiana last week. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

NEW YORK – Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will be happy to see Hornets coach Steve Clifford back on the bench when Miami plays at Charlotte on Saturday.

Clifford, 56, returned to the bench Wednesday after missing more than a month to deal with a health issues later identified as severe headaches. In his return, Clifford coached the Hornets to a 133-109 victory over Washington, their largest margin of victory for the season.

Associate head coach Steve Silas took over the team in Clifford’s absence.

Spoelstra said he and Clifford texted earlier this week.

“It was great,” Spoelstra said about Clifford’s return. “That’s scary. There’s a great deal of stress to this position so all of the coaches empathize what we go through. It’s a great opportunity and none of us are taking it for granted but it also reminds you, you do have to be very intentional about taking care of yourself.”

Spoelstra said he’s “gone down that road” of neglecting his health.

“We’re not perfect. I think all of our defaults is to become more obsessive and a lot of times that’s counterproductive so it’s a really difficult thing to fight against. But, man, we’re all thrilled to have him back out there. You could see the team felt great about it, too, just how well they played.”

Clifford’s last game he coached before stepping away was a 105-100 loss at Miami on Dec. 1. He missed the Dec. 4 game against the Magic because of illness before it was announced two days later Clifford was stepping away to address his health.

The Hornets (18-25) were 8-13 when Clifford left the team.

Clifford, in his fifth season as the Hornets coach, took time off in November 2013 to have two stents placed in his heart after experiencing chest pains.

[Heat’s Wayne Ellington showing he’s much more than a 3-point threat]

[Heat mailbag: Where does Rodney McGruder fit in when he returns? That and trade stuff]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s