NBA championship-winning coach Erik Spoelstra holds court in S’pore

Miami Heat heac coach Erik Spoelstra is in Singapore to conduct a series of coaching clinics (Getty)Miami Heat heac coach Erik Spoelstra is in Singapore to conduct a series of coaching clinics (Getty)

What do you do when your team has just won the NBA championship? You sign your rivals' best players, of course.

That is exactly what Erik Spoelstra, head coach of the Miami Heat, did just weeks after clinching the team's second NBA championship crown last month. The Heat last won the title in 2006.

On 11 July, the Heat's team president Pat Riley announced the signing of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis from the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards, adding to a team roster that includes the big three LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade.

Commenting on the two free agent signings, Spoelstra, who is in Singapore to conduct a series of coaching and basketball clinics in partnership with the Singapore Sports Council and the Basketball Association of Singapore, said it was imperative that the Heat "reinvent ourselves".

This, after the mistake they made in not improving the team for the new season the last time they were champions in '06. That year, the Heat became the first defending champion since 1957 to get swept in the first round in the following season, when they lost 4-0 to the Chicago Bulls.

"We think they (Allen and Lewis) can help our game," the Filipino-American coach said, before jesting, "Ray Allen tortured us so much with the Boston Celtics."

Winning the crown

Beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1 in the finals of the NBA this year is especially gratifying for Spoelstra and his team, after their heartbreaking loss to the Dallas Mavericks the previous season.

"We went through a period of time when we mourned. That's natural. The Dallas Mavericks simply earned it. They beat us fair and square," the youthful-looking 42-year-old reflected.

Going so close to the coveted trophy only reinforced the team's determination to win it at the next opportunity.

"We each made a commitment that we come back for the new season better," recalled Spoelstra, who visited various coaches, including those from other sports such as football, during the off-season "trying to improve my craft".

Even superstars like James and Wade returned refreshed and better."All the players came back (the next season) with the motivation to never experience the pain again," he said.

Olympic fever

Like all basketball fanatics, Spoelstra is paying close attention to the ongoing London Olympics, and in particular, to Team USA as it attempts to defend the gold medal won in Beijing in 2008.

When asked whether he thinks the Americans will be successful, Spoelstra declined to make a prediction, stressing that other teams like Spain and Argentina pose serious threat to the American dream.

On talks that other NBA coaches are reluctant to let the players play for their countries for fear of injury, Spoelstra shrugged it off by saying "injuries are part of the game".

"This is chance for LeBron to continue to build on his legacy," he said. Declaring himself a big supporter of Team USA, he added, "This is a game we all love. Our guys (in the American team) are taking this very seriously.

72 hours in Sunny Singapore

Turning his focus on what he plans to do while he is in Singapore, the coach turned visibly excited despite touching down only on Monday morning.

"The future of sports here in Singapore is very bright," he declared. "I'm going to talk about the importance of team work and nutrition, and have fun at the same time," he added with a smile.