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What is Miami Heat culture? The blueprint to success in the NBA

Miami Heat culture goes unmatched by the rest of the teams in the association. The hard work ethic, “speak your mind” approach, and get-after-it attitudes are staples of the franchise.

The Heat have conditioning tests at the start of training camp that players must complete, and if not, they are sent away. That was the case for James Johnson, a player that has since been traded away after he arrived at training camp unfit.

Johnson was not allowed to return to the team until he got his body right. The Heat are the only franchise known for being this strict with their players. The boot camp-like fitness regimen the Heat run is not the only thing that is admirable about the franchise.

Since Pat Riley took over as team president in 1995 and the implementation of Erik Spoelstra as head coach in 2008, they have been given the freedom by ownership to work autonomously, with full trust

This relationship has enabled Riley and Spoelstra to work without constraints, to hone in their talents and work as creatively as they want.

Spoelstra is adept at working with superstars like the Heatles: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.

The back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013 are evidence of this. Spoelstra’s movement of Chris Bosh to the center position to clear space for his star wings helped make those rings possible.

Still, Spoelstra has also shown the ability to work with teams of less star power.  Take a look at the Heat teams after 2014 and prior to this season. He puts his players in positions to succeed and they play hard every single night.

That alone can win basketball games.

Pat Riley is a savvy professional. Sometimes he’s even seen as cunning and ruthless. Nicknamed “the godfather of the NBA,” Riley has an aura surrounding him that at all times demands respect.

He was a brilliant head coach with the Lakers, Knicks, and Heat, but he has proved himself to be an elite front office executive. His recent trade for wings Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder from Memphis prove this.

He always takes a chance at star free agents, nailing the best player on the planet in LeBron in 2010 and Chris Bosh, and Jimmy Butler this past offseason.

Butler, a player with an interesting past and intense personality, has been labeled as “toxic” and “difficult” after his last stints in Minnesota and Philly, for his pressure on teammates and inability to work with others.

The truth, it now seems, is that Butler has high expectations for himself and his teammates, and if you’re not working as hard as he is, he is not going to respect you. Above all else, Butler just wants to win.

“When he was in other places, he got knocked for [speaking his mind]. He was disruptive toward his teammates, but you put him around some guys that actually want to get to the grind, what did he do for them? He upped their level of play, right?” said Iguodala, Butler’s newest teammate.

Dwyane Wade, the most beloved player in Heat franchise history, knew Butler and the Heat were a perfect match and encouraged him to sign in Miami.

“No. 3 was like ‘This Culture fits you,'” Butler told reporters. “It’s been great. Everybody here wants everyone to be better. To be great.”

The Heat is now a collection of dogs and hard-working youngsters that have more to prove. Point guard Kendrick Nunn went undrafted in the 2018 draft before the Heat took a chance on him this season.

Shooting guard Duncan Robinson went undrafted in the same draft, and is now shooting 44 percent from 3-point-range on the season and starting alongside Nunn, Butler, journeyman Meyers Leonard, and first-time all-star Bam Adebayo.

Finding these diamonds in the rough and making smart draft choices have helped the Heat combine their strong culture with winning basketball players, great floor-spacing, and a diverse style of basketball, perfect for the 2020 NBA.

The Heat sits at fourth in the Eastern Conference standings and is among the teams most people see as viable championship contenders. They have outperformed expectations this season, and that is a testament to the franchise and the culture that is ingrained in South Beach.

“Stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready,” isn’t that what they say?

The culture of the Heat demonstrates that they are always a threat, always looking to improve, always looking to be great.

The franchise’s success should serve as a model for all visionaries and creatives seeking influence and prosperity. Success is built off of attitude, and it is not accomplished in a day.