There are times during the NBA season when Erik Spoelstra isn’t telling.
“No new update,” is a typical response from the Miami Heat coach.
But these are different times amid the league’s shutdown during the new coronavirus pandemic. And this time, Spoelstra said he is the one seeking updates — updates that come from levels far beyond a coach’s office.
“Everybody’s looking for answers and solutions and we’re not going to get anything in absolute concrete right now,” he said during a video appearance hosted by TNT’s Ernie Johnson Jr. on the NBA Twitter account. “That’s just the world we’re in.”
It is a world that has evolved since the league’s March 11 shutdown, one that now has teams returning to practice courts on staggered schedules, with numerous limitations due to health concerns.
The Heat are expected to have players back working on the practice court at AmericanAirlines Arena as soon as Wednesday, the Sun Sentinel has confirmed.
“We will be opening up in a soft opening with our facility at some point, soon,” Spoelstra said. “And we’re in daily communication with the league and with the state and with the county on how to figure out how to do that where it is the most safe way, and where we can follow all the protocols and really keep everybody involved safe and healthy.
“And that’s not only the players, but staff, support staff, etc. So there’s a flickering of a light that we’re all feeling right now. But I think it’s also important that we all stay extremely aware and vigilant, as we take these incremental steps forward, not only as a community, but as a league, that we’re doing it with our eyes wide open and health and safety are at the forefront.”
Spoelstra praised the NBA for the league’s measured approach, citing the leadership of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
“And the world is starting to incrementally take a small step forward,” he said. “This has been relatively scary for all of us, some more than others.”
The initial sessions at team facilities, which have been closed since mid-March, will be limited to one player per basket, with no more than four in the practice facility at a time. Spoelstra and his top assistants will not be allowed to participate in the sessions.
For Spoelstra, the moment remains bigger than basketball, and for more than the uncertainty of when or whether the league can resume this season.
“We’re keeping really consistent communication with our team and our guys,” he said. “Look, we’re the Miami Heat, so we know how to work, we know how to grind. But I think it’s important to separate that right now. This is not about that.
“This is not about competition. This is bigger than basketball. Our communication with our players and our daily Zoom workouts are really more about connection, and it’s more about having some laughs and getting the guys on some kind of routine.”
He said the approach has been similar with his coaching staff.
“All of this, I think we’re all just kind of feeling our way, adjusting, adapting, pivoting,” he said. “We do meet two or three times a week as a staff. Sometimes it’s to talk about the team and sometimes it’s really just to catch up and tell stories about what’s going on in each other’s households.
“You’re just trying to keep the train moving and keep people positive and keep that connection. I think that’s probably more important than anything, is that connection.”
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