Erik Spoelstra on Miami Heat Star: ‘He’s Taken a Step Forward’

Erik Spoelstra

Getty Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is getting the most out of his undermanned squad this year.

Jimmy Butler doesn’t care who he offends or what people think. That’s one brand of leadership. The other version of leadership is a learning process, a test of will — and one that Bam Adebayo is passing with flying colors.

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was asked what the biggest improvement he’s seen from his All-Star center this year. He could have easily brought up his new mid-range jumper or his smooth pick-and-roll chemistry with Butler. No, neither one has been the most impressive. It has been Adebayo’s gradual ascension from a quiet listener to an aggressive teacher.

“He’s talking a lot more,” Spoelstra told reporters on Thursday night. “His first couple years, he didn’t say a whole lot, and each year he’s getting more comfortable. Not only is he more confident in that role, it’s absolutely required with this group, that he leads. And he’s doing it in different ways. It’s demanding sometimes, it’s hard sometimes, it’s encouraging sometimes, it’s uplifting and elevating guys and helping them feel more confident. I’m enjoying this process of seeing him grow as a leader.”

Adebayo is averaging 19.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game through 27 contests. He’s on pace to shatter career-highs across the board. But his commitment to being a leader has turned the most heads, something the 23-year-old chose to work on this season.

“I feel like my leadership has grown. I’m stepping into a bigger role and that’s just the responsibility I need to generate to get us going,” Adebayo said on Jan. 24. “Everybody feeds off of me, so I can’t have any games where I’m not aggressive, or I’m playing laid back.”

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Taylor Swift Grades Butler’s Dance Moves

File this under pop icon status. Taylor Swift apparently caught wind of Jimmy Butler dancing to one of her songs and took to social media to grade the basketball star’s moves.

Former Heat star Dwyane Wade brought the viral clip to Butler’s attention during an appearance on TNT as the post-game crew mocked him. It shows a young Butler jamming out to Swift’s song “22” in 2014 alone in the Chicago Bulls’ locker room.

Wade gave Butler — his former Bulls teammate — a nine out of 10 for his dance moves, then Swift chimed in and awarded the Heat forward a 13 out of 10. Go figure. It should be noted that Butler has gone on record in the past saying he’s a big Taylor Swift fan. He grew up in Texas and often listens to country music during pre-game warmups.

“I like Taylor Swift,” Butler said, via Bleacher Report. “I like music a whole, but her music is kinda catchy … I try to listen to people I’ve gained relationships with over the years, so whether it’s Ludacris or Lee Brice or Jason Aldean, whoever it is I try to support them just like they support me.”

Tyler Herro Growing as Complete Basketball Player

Tyler Herro has been getting quite a bit of grief in recent days from Heat fans. There is a loud minority that believes Miami should have swapped Herro for James Harden last month in a blockbuster, conference-shaking trade that never happened. Sure, the 21-year-old guard has struggled at times but his potential remains off the charts.

Spoelstra was asked about Herro on Thursday night and told everyone to pump the brakes. The kid is a tireless worker who is still learning how to be a complete player in the pros. It’s going to be a “day-to-day process.”

“He’s going to grow and improve as an offensive player. He puts in a good deal of time and offensive study and work,” Spoelstra said. “He’s not just a shooter. He can make plays off the dribble. He’s still working on his handle, tightening up that against stronger players … his decision-making with help-side defenses, and then, of course, continuing to take on more responsibility and improve on the defensive end.”


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