Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 6/18/12

Where there once was doubt with Erik Spoelstra regarding whether the Heat coach would be back next season, there now seemingly is certainty.

Beyond Sunday's 91-85 victory over the Thunder at AmericanAirlines Arena, which lifted Miami to a 2-1 lead in these best-of-seven Finals, there has been a groundswell of Spoelstra being the right man for the job.

"I think Spo has been great," forward LeBron James said. "I mean, he's been challenged the last two years by a lot of people, but I think he's been awesome. Two straight Finals appearances, and he's put us in position to win each and every game.

"And for me, our relationship has grown over the last three years because we've been around each other, we understand what we like, our dislikes, everything of that nature, but he's been great. He's going to continue to grow, and I hope I can continue to grow around him. But he's been great. He's been a great coach."

James said Spoelstra has made extra effort to make the relationship work.

"I just think he's been more open this year, you know, allowing some of the players to voice their opinion on certain situations, either at practice or in a game, no matter what the magnitude of the game is," he said. "We trust him and he trusts us.

"At the end of the day, he has the last call because he is the head coach, but as a player you love that fact when a coach wants to hear or wants to feel what you may see out on the floor during the game or during the film session."

Guard Dwyane Wade agreed, saying that even when the two had a blowup in Game 3 of the second round against the Pacers, both were able to push past the incident.

"I mean, yeah, something was made of that blowup in Indiana, but that shows how our relationship has grown," he said. "We've been together a long time. You don't have those kind of moments if you haven't been together. It's just like family members, just like a brother. We have moments, but we love each other and we move on from it, we grow from it.

"That's the way we are. That's the way our team is. Me and Coach, since I've been here, came in years ago, he was a guy that was in the gym with me late, making sure that my game was where I wanted it to be, and there wasn't a lot of great moments at that time because he had to push me sometimes where I was tired or I didn't want to be pushed."

The enduring belief in each other has made the relationship work, Wade said.

"So we've had a lot of moments," Wade said. "I've enjoyed seeing him grow. I think the biggest growth in him this season has been his openness to be able to ask other guys what they think, and at the end of the day he makes the final decision.

"But we all feel that we get to put our own stamp on stuff, even during games, tough moments, big moments, he's open to what you guys think, what you guys want to do. And that's key for players, to feel that they have that openness with their coach, that he's going to listen to what they have to say, and sometimes use it, sometimes not, but as your leader making the best decision."

Game 4 is scheduled for Tuesday night in Miami.

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