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Malcom Huckaby praises Eric Spoelstra on D&C 06.01.12 at 10:26 am ET
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Former Boston College guard Malcolm Huckaby, who was signed to a one-year deal by the Heat in 1996-97, joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday and offered his opinion of Heat coach Eric Spoelstra. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Huckaby recalled working with Spoelstra during his time as a member of the Heat, when Spoelstra was a video coordinator for the team.

“When I was playing down there in 1996-97, the assistant coaches really didn’t get the type of credit they do today in terms of helping guys develop and how valuable they are to the head coaches,” Huckaby said. “He and Stan Van Gundy, who was also an assistant down there at the time, these guys would function on about three hours of sleep.

“We would come back and, prior to moving into the American Airlines arena, we had a practice facility and these guys literally would sleep there overnight.”

Huckaby went on to discuss Spoelstra’s role in the development of Dwyane Wade, who quickly developed into a star partly due to Spoelstra’s coaching.

“Obviously, everybody knows that Dwyane Wade is a great slasher, a guy who can get to the hole and is very explosive,” Huckaby said. “But the thing I think has improved in his game is his consistency of his jumper. He credits Eric Spoelstra for that.”

Wade made headlines for confronting Spoelstra during a timeout in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Huckaby said he does not see that as a current issue between the two though, as both Wade and Spoelstra appear to have moved on.

“Nobody wants to see that happen, in particular when it’s your star player going up against any coach, whether it’s a veteran coach or a young coach,” Huckaby said. “It happens, they have moved on, and they have rebounded pretty quickly from that the way Wade came back afterwards and had a pretty good game in that Indiana series. I think that is kind of in the rearview mirror for them right now.”

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Malcolm Huckaby remembers the making of Erik Spoelstra 05.28.12 at 7:28 am ET
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Malcolm Huckaby was a member of the 1996-97 Heat.

The little office light on in the practice facility still on at 3 a.m. The calculating of plus-minus plays in practice. The guy breaking down film for Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley.

This is my memory up close with a Pat Riley clone and future coach of an NBA dream team named Erik Spoelstra.

I had fulfilled one of my lifelong dreams, playing in the NBA for the Heat, when I inked a one-year deal in 1996 as a free agent with Riley, who coached the team then.

Riley mused on a then-undrafted free agent point guard out of Boston College who had overcome a horrific ankle injury, calling me a player who was a PHD (poor, hungry and desperate). Spoelstra, at the time, was crafting his skill in the dungeon of the video room of the team, working long hours desperately trying to give Riley any advantage possible.

Most people on the outside at the time of the 1996-97 season failed to give the kind of credit they do now for the work of assistant coaches, who work zombie hours with all the credit going to the head coach. But the knowledge that was around when I played was priceless. You had a Hall of Fame coach in Riley, along with Stan Van Gundy (who, after I asked him and Spoelstra how much sleep they got the night before, replied, “Huck, sleep is overrated”), and assistant coach Bob (Can Do) McAdoo, who once led the NBA in scoring when guys with nicknames like “Ice Man” were playing.

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Read More: Bob McAdoo, Erik Spoelstra, Malcolm Huckaby, Pat Riley
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