An unforgettable all-star experience for Heat’s Erik Spoelstra

The defining moment in All-Star Weekend for the Miami Heat came before the All-Star Game.

A few hours before Sunday night’s Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse parade event that concluded the weekend, Heat’s All-Star representatives gathered for a photo shoot. Coach Eric Spoelstra, his coaching staff and other team members who made the trip to Cleveland pose around Jimmy Butler for the photo.

Then a group of former Heat players named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team walked in and plans changed.

“We originally just wanted to get a picture with Jimmy,” Spoilstra said after Sunday’s All-Star Game. Then while we were getting Jimmy ready for the photo, then Dwayne [Wade] I walked beside. Then we’re like, ‘Wait a minute. You have to get this picture. Then [Gary Payton] walked then saw [Allen] It was around the corner, then [Bob McAdoo] walked in.”

The result was a moment that will be remembered for a long time, as the Heat’s All-Star squad of Butler, Spoilstra, his coaching staff and other team members gathered with Shaquille O’Neal, Wade, Payton, Allen and McAdoo for a photo shoot.

“We were able to get 15-20 minutes, just all the old Heat guys together,” Spoelstra said. “This will be one of my special moments.”

Allen, LeBron James, McAdoo, O’Neal, Payton and Wade are the six who shared ties with the Heat who made the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team, which consists of those who have been voted the 75th greatest players in NBA history. James is the only one in that group who wasn’t able to take a picture.

“It was one of the magical moments we’ve all recorded right now,” said Spoilstra. “It’s happening in every one of our offices for sure.”

As for the game, Spoilstra and his crew coached Durant and Butler with Team LeBron. In the end, it was LeBron’s team that took a 163-160 win to wrap up the All-Star Weekend on Sunday night.

Butler finished with two points in a 1 of 2, one pass and two steals in nine minutes off Team LeBron’s bench. He did not play in the second half.

Butler’s only basket came on a paltry 15-foot-long single-legged jump in the second quarter. His only other attempt came in the first quarter when he missed a third corner kick.

“He was talking about trash,” Spoilstra said of spending one night as Butler’s opponent. “If he hit those three in the corner. Once he got into the game and shot those three open, he would have barked at us. But it was mostly friendly.”

It was everything about the game that made Sunday special for Spoilstra. Spoelstra and his staff — Malik Allen, Dan Bisaccio, Caron Butler, Anthony Carter, Eric Glass and Chris Quinn — watched the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team halftime honoring ceremony on TV from the locker room.

“It was really convincing,” said Spoilstra. “But we did a picture of our team and pictures of our staff and everything while they were preparing a picture of the Top 75. So everyone was in the same room and we all felt like kids. We wanted to be very respectful, but you naturally wanted to get a piece of paper and start getting autographs.” One of the coolest things I saw was Rick Barry walking around and getting autographs from all the other 75 players. That was amazing.”

Then there was the time they spent with each other and their families over the weekend. The Spoelstra staff were by his side in the All-Star Experience from start to finish.

“This was a really special weekend for the Heat organisation,” Spoelstra said. “We take so much pride in this. We all took our families out and it was a family vacation. We all gathered in the same place and had breakfast and meals together, then rode the same buses to go to events. It was really fun seeing the staff with their families and kids.”

The Heat’s All-Stars now have a few days off before returning to training on Thursday. The Heat, who entered the first-half East Center with a record 38-21, resumed their schedule Friday against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

“When we get back to it, you know how we are. We are going to hold our ground and take the extended run seriously,” Spoelstra said. We have a bunch of players competing in our locker room. They thrive and want that kind of compelling attitude and matches. But we’ll get there at the end of the week when we get there.”

This story was originally published February 21, 2022 12:40 PM.

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Anthony Chiang covers the Miami Heat for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and was born and raised in Miami.