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June 12, 2011

Erik Spoelstra


Dallas Mavericks 105
Miami Heat 95

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA: I think it goes without saying you're never really prepared, you know, for a moment like this. That's certainly not what we were expecting. Our hats go off to Dallas. Neither team deserved this championship more than the other, but Dallas earned it, and they should be congratulated. When it was time for them to make tough plays and make big baskets in crunch time when they needed it, they did. We had opportunities.
There's certainly an emptiness right now with our group. We've been through a heck of a lot this season, where in many ways it felt like two seasons built in one. There's no excuses. There's no blame. Sometimes you simply come up short. All of the storylines and noise out there, that had nothing to do with this series and the outcome. But it doesn't make it feel any easier for the guys in the locker room.
One day we'll probably be able to look back on this, sometime this summer, when the emptiness and the pain leaves, and we'll feel better about what happened. It's a special group. A lot of guys sacrificed to make this happen. It was unfortunate we just came up short.

Q. Erik, obviously LeBron 4-for-4 to start. Looked like he was on the way. For whatever reason very deferential again. Was there something they took away from him in the game or series or was there something over the two weeks that was not there of his unusual greatness?
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA: Tonight they went to the zone obviously late in the first quarter and that took us out of our rhythm. They were in a very good flow. That's what they do. They don't stay in the zone very long. But it's enough to get you a little bit out of your rhythm, out of your comfort zone. By the time they come back into man, you've lost some possessions. So when he was able to be aggressive, the zone took him out of that. But he was still trying to make an impact. And ultimately you do have to give Dallas some credit.

Q. Erik, if you saw LeBron, of course you did, in the last series, and you see him in this series, you wouldn't think it's the same guy with everything you were just talking about. There's gaps out there; he's not jumping into them. When he does jump into them, he goes to the first level, makes a pass. Just wasn't getting to the hoop. The free throws tell the story.
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA: Each series is different. I've said this many times and certainly I can say it to you all out there, it's a lot easier said than done. You do have to give credit to the Mavericks. They weren't given enough credit this season as a defensive team, but they're much improved. And so they were able to do some things that got us out of our rhythm, certainly from the first three rounds.
LeBron has been a lightning rod for a lot of everything. Criticism, and a lot of the noise that's been created outside. I think it's really unfair. He made a tremendous sacrifice to come here, and he's been an ultimate team player. He should not be criticized for that.
Sometimes there's no excuses, there's no blame, sometimes you just simply come up short. And the competition you're playing against sometimes plays better.

Q. The question everyone is going to ask and has been asking is, what is wrong or was wrong with LeBron James. Do you think that's a fair question? And do you have any answers that go beyond the basketball techniques and defenses that you've already cited?
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA: No, there's nothing physically wrong. Looking back on it, I'm sure all summer, I'll wish I could probably find ways to make it easier for our guys. Particularly in this series. We struggled at times. Sometimes we looked good offensively, other times we looked out of rhythm and we looked a little out of character. Again, I think part of that is the competition.

Q. Erik, forgive me if this was asked already, can you share just a little of what you said to the team when you got in there.
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA: Some of the same messages I told you. Some of them are between myself and the team. But this group has been through a lot this season. Not at all looking for any kind of sympathy. It was a memorable season, in terms of a group of guys coming together for a common goal to sacrifice a lot of things that they're comfortable with. It was a hard-working, lunch pail-type mentality group that came to work every day to try to chase down this dream. There's an emptiness when you don't reach your goal. There's nothing we can say right now that will make that pain go away.
Maybe it's as simple as it being a rite of passage before we have to move on and take the next step.

Q. Erik, did you plan to take LeBron out at the start of the fourth, or is that what you saw?
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA: Yeah. We had talked about it before the game. It was going to be a 1 1/2-minute, 2-minute burst depending on the game. It was either going to be right at the quarter or one minute into the quarter to take us to the nine-minute timeout.

Q. Erik, you keep talking about this season in full. Was there anything that you guys took out of this season that in some way was singular, no other NBA team has maybe gone through something quite like what you guys did, that gets applied to next year?
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA: Well, I'm sure all of the unusual circumstances the way this team was viewed, right or wrong or indifferent, we had to go through a lot together. And it's really a beautiful thing. Where you are forced into uncomfortable zones, where there's some adversity, where there are things that you have to band together to get through. There's no question about it that we became a tougher team. A mentally tougher team by going through a lot of the things together, a lot of the pain. But we just couldn't get over this final hump.

Q. Before this season LeBron said he wanted to win multiple championships. In the end do you think he put too much pressure on himself and the team?
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA: It doesn't matter what happened back then. We had an opportunity right now. That didn't affect it. It didn't affect our play. It didn't affect our competition. We put ourselves in a position to have an opportunity, and it might be as simple as that. We came up short. We got beat by a team that played better than us. Particularly at the moment of truth.

Q. Erik, the narrative of this series was all about LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, even Chris Bosh, three potential Hall-of-Fame players. The fact that you fell short, what does it say about what the Dallas Mavericks are made of? Most NBA champions are known for having some signature players, some kind of greatness to them. What will that Dallas team be known as?
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA: They'll be known as NBA champions. Nobody will ever take that away from them. Who cares about any other storyline. They have a bunch of Hall of Famers on that team, a lot of winners, a tremendous amount of experience. Those guys have been through some pain, some heartache, and that hardens you. It toughens you to when you get to the moment of truth, that they were able to respond.
Dirk Nowitzki is simply one of the all-time greats. And he was when we played him in 2006. His game has continued to elevate in his 30s. That's a remarkable thing. I think that's a great lesson for NBA players. You can still improve as you get older and add more skills and dimensions to your game. He is probably one of the most indefensible players in this league, because of his skill set, his shooting and his size. And now he's seen every single coverage he can possibly see.

Q. Erik, how much of this do you put on yourself, understanding that this is a process? And along those lines --
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA: No question about it. It will start with the leadership, and that's something that I'll be spending a great deal of time this summer on things we could have done better, things we could have done during the season to help us better prepare for this moment. It's too early to say right now, but it starts with the head coach.

Q. And again, raw as it is, you talk about the journey on down the line there's a lineage of teams that have to lose before they win. Was that part of your message?
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA: No. It could be that it is a rite of passage, but that's not what we were thinking about. This is the furthest thing from my mind, that I would be up here in front of you all right now. I told the guys before the game, don't apologize. Don't apologize for being confident. We thought that this was going to Game 7, and we thought that's where we would be our best. It just didn't happen that way.
So we still have a young core. It's a bright future. In the next upcoming weeks, I'm sure we'll be able to highlight that in a better mood.

Q. Erik, over the course of this season you've maintained that "we have enough." As you look ahead in terms of personnel and other factors and intangibles, do you guys have enough?
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA: Well, I mean, that will be a great question for my mentor, for Pat. Again, that's probably the furthest thing from my mind right now. Clearly, sitting where I am right now, I felt we had enough. And certainly you could watch this series and each game over and over and over and make a case that we had enough. But in the moment of truth, they played better than us four times.

Q. Erik, you stressed all season over and over again the importance of execution. Tonight you had 17 turnovers leading to 27 points, critical offensive rebounds by the Dallas Mavericks, and you struggled against their zone. How much of this was just poor execution on your team's part?
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA: You know, it's probably a combination of a lot of things. You know, again, the habits that we built all season long would suggest that how we played at times during this series was very uncharacteristic. That's not how we played during the season, and that certainly wasn't the way we played in the first three rounds. And so that would probably lend and suggest that a large part of this would probably be the competition.
Now, yes, we will beat ourselves up about so many things we could have done better. But ultimately, that's what this stage is about. And sometimes as tough as it is to admit, sometimes you get beat by a team that it was their time. And that will be a tough thing for us to swallow, this emptiness that we'll feel now during the off-season. It will be a tough pill for all of us.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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