By Marcus Chhan
You would probably have to go back a few decades to the Chuck Daly era of the Detroit Pistons to find a team as hated as the Heat were when they reached the NBA Finals 2011. When they lost in six games to the Dallas Mavericks, few people outside of Miami shed a tear. And the franchise's hardest critics began to circle like vultures.
Spoelstra, who was only appointed to the head coaching role of the Heat in 2008, was expected to be the first casualty. How could a team containing the starting talent of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh fail to win, right?
Michael Jordan wasn't a fan of Daly's Detroit Pistons back in the 80s and 90s, and he wasn't too fond of the galaxy of stars assembled by Miami in 2011 either. It seemed nobody was. And when the Heat's plan to team up James and Bosh with their established star Wade failed in its first season, the project was in danger of imploding before it even got a chance to take off.
Except it didn't. Miami stuck with Spoelstra.
In late June 2012, the Heat completed a 4-1 series win over the Oklahoma City Thunder to secure the NBA title and served their detractors a piece of humble pie.
The Miami Heat were NBA Champions 2012.
"Sounds great," Spoelstra told ESPNSTAR in Singapore on Tuesday.
"And they [critics] can't take it away from us."
"Obviously there has been an incredible amount of attention and scrutiny on our team, but this [winning the title] really wasn't about vindication or us trying to prove other people wrong. It was the culmination of a collective dream and a journey we all had to go on together.
"And we're finally able to climb that mountain after the failure the year before against
Dallas; that was incredibly gratifying for all of us."
James, who like Spoelstra was frequently blamed for the disappointment of 2011, sealed the deal for the Heat with a triple-double as Miami overran Oklahoma 121-106 to wrap up the best-of-seven series with two games to spare.
In truth, James had been unplayable at times during the Heat's title run. His post-up game had grown leaps and bounds ever since that defeat to Dallas in 2011 and the opposition had no answer to it in 2012 post-season.
"Really, it was humbling to see when you have a two-time MVP that was willing to change his game and really try and improve to get to another level," Spoelstra said.
"Now he's a three-time MVP, but he specifically added another dimension to his game and that was the post-up game. That really helped us and we used that in the playoffs to play a power style of basketball."
Spoelstra added: "You know what? You get to know someone on a deeper level when you go through it all - the ups and downs and everything in between."
"We've [LeBron and I] been through everything. Our relationship has continued to develop and it will continue to grow."
James was named Finals MVP after Miami triumphed 4-1 over Oklahoma.