Saturday, January 31, 2009

If your best players are setting an example, it makes everything easier

Spending the summer with some of the world's best players as part of Team USA helped sharpen Dwayne Wade's leadership skills, according to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

As Mitch Lawrence writes in today's NY Daily News, "Put young and immature players with a 38-year old rookie coach and it could have been a disaster. But just as Patrick Ewing ran interference for Jeff Van Gundy when he assumed the helm of the Knicks at the age of 34, Spoelstra, the league's youngest coach, is grateful for Wade's leadership."

"It's been one of his two biggest areas of improvement," said Spoelstra, also citing Wade's defense. "He's much more vocal than he's ever been. He's always pulling guys aside and teaching them. And when he got the guys together, he laid down expectations for the season. What they could expect from me. A lot of these guys didn't know me. But he told them how we do things here with the Miami Heat.

Any coach - a veteran or a rookie coach - wants that. If your best players are setting a tone and setting an example, it makes everything much easier. I don't know if the young guys would have progressed as quickly as they have if we didn't have the leadership from Dwyane, along with Udonis and Shawn (Marion). Every day they see them going hard, so it's easy to fall in line. They look and they see, oh, so this is how it's done."