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Heat coach Spoelstra puts focus on learning


MIAMI – Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra looked relaxed Thursday, as if he took the summer off.

Quite the contrary.

Not long after Miami won last season’s NBA championship, Spoelstra started plotting the best way for the Heat to win another. So he sought input from other coaches, like Florida’s Billy Donovan, who won back-to-back NCAA titles; Cincinnati football coach and close friend Butch Jones; Oregon women’s coach Paul Westhead, an offensive guru; and Vance Walberg, who developed the dribble drive motion offense.

A few he communicated with indirectly, like Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells. Oh, and he works for Pat Riley, who knows a bit about title defenses.

Spoelstra’s summer mission was simple: Keep learning. And whatever he gleaned over those months starts going on display Saturday when the Heat open training camp, the formal start to a year where they will be widely expected to contend for another title.

“I heard Bill Gates say it once. He said, ‘Success is a horrible teacher,’ ” Spoelstra said Thursday. “My interpretation is that sometimes you forget the process and everything it took and the failures to get to that point. It’s not the event. I think it’s easier for a coach. You live in a constant state of uneasiness.”

There’s no denying that Spoelstra will insist that the Heat keep their edge, even after how their last official act together was celebrating a champ- ionship.

“It’s not easy,” Spoelstra said. “It’s harder to repeat. It’s hard to win a title in any professional sport. There’s so many variables. You have to have your health first, you have to have talent, you have to have everybody on the same page and you have to be peaking at the right time. And you certainly have to develop enough resolve and resiliency to weather the storms and the tough times.”

While this would hardly qualify as a true “storm” like Spoelstra referred to, the Heat aren’t perfect in the health department to open camp.

Neither Dwyane Wade (knee surgery) nor Mike Miller (back rehabilitation) is 100 percent, meaning they’ll be at least mildly limited. Free-agent signee Ray Allen, formerly of the rival Boston Celtics, isn’t totally recovered from ankle surgery, though Spoelstra said someone “wouldn’t know it” if they saw him play. Chris Bosh said the abdominal injury suffered in the playoff run is “behind him.”

In all, 12 of the 15 players on the roster at the end of last season will be in camp on Saturday. The three exceptions – Ronny Turiaf (Gonzaga University) signed with the Clippers, while Eddy Curry and Juwan Howard were not re-signed, though Spoelstra said Thursday that the team might be open to revisiting with Howard down the road.

The Heat completed their 20-man training camp roster Thursday, signing Robert Dozier and Rodney Carney.