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Summer of Elightenment

Yes, the wait for Lamar Odom on the free-agent front continues for the Miami Heat.

No, not everyone in the organization is sitting around waiting on pins and needles for that decision. SPO-Coach

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is half a world away in the Philippines, in the midst of a near two-week trip to his mother's homeland to conduct clinics and basketball camps with the country's youth. Spoelstra, 38, returned to the Philippines for the first time in 35 years.

Had a chance to catch up with the soon-to-be second-year Heat coach during a conference call Thursday morning. It was 10 a.m. on this end, but it was 10 p.m. where Spoelstra was speaking from a dinner meeting with various dignitaries and basketball officials.

The conference call was set up under one condition by the Heat: That Spoelstra wouldn't have to address the free-agency frenzy that has engulfed the team amid its wait for the Odom situation to be resolved.

Instead, Spoelstra talked at length about how enlightening this trip has been for him, given the chance he's had to reconnect with one side of his roots some 6,000 miles away. Spoelstra is the first coach in NBA history to be of Filipino heritage. Spo hasn't reached Manny Pacquiao level when it comes to the natives. But he's gaining ground. Especially after this trip, where he's been on the go teaching and inspiring both young and old from 7 a.m. until nearly midnight each day.

"I have a great deal of pride about my heritage," Spoelstra said. "I've been able to reconnect with family, some I haven't seen since I was three years old. To be able to come here - 6,000 miles away is a special feeling."

Spoelstra made the trip with Heat assistant coaches Dave Fizdale and Chad Kammerer. They've crossed the country to speak to government officials and instruct youth, college and pro basketball players. Spoelstra has chronicled the trip in blog entries posted on the Heat's web site. One of the things that surprised Spoelstra the most was the knowledge of the NBA at every age over there.

"They know about the (Heat's) free agent possibilities and trades," Spoelstra said. "So we started asking them questions. Who has the most titles among NBA players? One kid raised his hand and said, 'Bill Russell.' Another said, 'He has 11.' We were blown away by that."

Spoelstra and the staff are scheduled to return to Miami on Aug. 3 to oversee another set of intensive offseason workouts for the Heat's younger players. The team already completed one session earlier this month. 

"The guys are coming back the first week of August ready to work," Spoelstra said.

Maybe there will be a Lamar resolution, with Odom in tow by then. 

Then again, at this rate, maybe not. 

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports)


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