A blowout loss in the deciding game of the NBA Finals wasn't the desired result for a Miami Heat team that exceeded expectations and pushed the Los Angeles Lakers to Game 6.
That doesn't dilute the journey, an emotional Erik Spoelstra told reporters.
"These are going to be lifetime memories that we have together. Regardless of whatever happens in the future, we're going to remember this year, this season, this experience and that locker-room brotherhood for the rest of our lives," the Heat coach said he told his team after the game. "You're in this business to be around people like this. And I can go on and on."
Spoelstra, a two-time NBA champion in his own right, noted how banged-up Miami players still pushed to be on the floor despite their injuries, offering high compliments to Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic without saying their names.
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"That's how this group was," said Spoelstra, who took about 30 seconds to wipe tears from his eyes before answering questions. "They wanted to do it for each other. I'm just really bummed that we couldn't find a way to get over the hump and finish the season with the win."
That's not to take anything away from the Lakers, Spoelstra said.
"It was great to share this stage with them," he said. "Congratulations on the championship. They earned it. They earned it in this series."
Spoelstra thanked the behind-the-scenes personnel and gave a shoutout to the NBA for making the bubble in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, a success, from the logistics to the COVID-19 safety protocols.
"To be a part of something as historic as this to continue our season, we felt — we feel — honored and grateful that we were able to be a part of this," he said.
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.
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