Erik Spoelstra (/ˈspoʊlstrə/ SPOHL-strə; born November 1, 1970) is an American professional basketball coach and the current head coach of the National Basketball Association’s Miami Heat. A Filipino-American through his mother’s side, he is the first Asian American head coach in the history of the four major American sports leagues and the first Asian American head coach to win an NBA championship.
From 2001 to 2008, he served as assistant coach and director of scouting for the team. He has coached the Heat to 194 regular-season wins and four playoff appearances, including trips to the 2011 and 2012 NBA Finals, in his first four seasons.
He is the son of Dutch-Irish-American Jon Spoelstra, who was an NBA executive for the Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets, Buffalo Braves and New Jersey Nets, and the grandson of the late Watson Spoelstra, a sportswriter in the Detroit area.His mother, Elisa Celino, is from San Pablo, Laguna in the Philippines.
To relax, Spoelstra does yoga and goes jogging and spinning. He has traveled to the Philippines several times, often under the NBA FIT program, which promotes healthy lifestyles.
Spoelstra grew up in Portland, Oregon and starred at Jesuit High School in 1988. Before his senior season, Spoelstra played in Sonny Vaccaro’s Nike All-Star camp in Princeton, New Jersey, joining future NBA players Alonzo Mourning, Shawn Kemp, and Bobby Hurley in the camp.
He went to the University of Portland in 1992 and was named the West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year. Spoelstra was the Pilots’ starting point guard for four years, averaging 9.2 points, 4.4 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game. A member of Portland’s 1,000-point club, Spoelstra was on the court as Hank Gathers collapsed and died during the 1990 WCC Tournament.
After graduation from college, he spent two years as a player/coach for TuS Herten (later the Herten Ruhr Devils / Hertener Löwen), a midlevel professional German team based in Westphalia. It was in this setting where Spoelstra got his first coaching job, as coach of the club’s local youth team.
Spoelstra joined the Heat staff in 1995 as the team’s video coordinator after his father called Chris Wallace, then the director of player personnel for the Heat. After two years, he was named assistant coach/video coordinator, then promoted to assistant coach/advance scout in 1999. He became the assistant coach/director of scouting in 2001. He was cited by Sports Illustrated (May 30, 2005) for honing star guard Dwyane Wade’s “shooting balance and smoothing out his release after the Flash’s return from the Athens Olympics.”
Spoelstra was an assistant coach with the Miami Heat when they won the 2006 NBA Finals by defeating the Dallas Mavericks, overcoming a 0–2 deficit.
In April 2008, Spoelstra was named successor to Pat Riley as head coach of the Miami Heat. In naming Spoelstra as head coach, Riley said: “This game is now about younger coaches who are technologically skilled, innovative, and bring fresh new ideas. That’s what we feel we are getting with Erik Spoelstra. He’s a man that was born to coach.” Riley also noted: “A lot of players want the discipline; they will play [hard] for Spoelstra, because they respect him.”
Spoelstra coached the Heat to the NBA Finals in 2011 where they lost 4–2 against the Dallas Mavericks.
On December 16, 2011, he received a contract extension.
On June 21, 2012, Spoelstra won the NBA Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1.
In a Related Story
Erik Spoelstra, coach of the Miami Heat, is the first Asian/American-Filipino coach in any of the major American sports leagues. He has conducted basketball clinics the past two NBA offseasons in the Philippines, and now wants to bring another Filipino hero into the mix: Manny Pacquiao. Spoelstra is a big Pacquiao fan, and wants to use his status to hold clinics that promote sports and healthy lifestyles for youth. Pacquiao is not only a sports icon in the country, he is also a political icon. He was elected earlier this year to a congressional seat in the Philippines. The deal is still in the works, but Spoelstra said the clinics will likely be held in Pacquaio’s hometown of Kibawe, Bukidnon. – queenofsports.com
Spoelstra gives championship cap to PNoy
President Benigno Aquino III received on Friday a championship cap sent to him by Miami Heat’s Filipino-American head coach Erik Spoelstra.
Spoelstra affixed his signature on the cap and sent his best wishes to the President.
“To PNoy–Best wishes! Coach Spo,” wrote Spoelstra.
The cap was sent through ABS-CBN News when sports correspondent TJ Manotoc interviewed Spoelstra in Miami after the Heat became the 2011-2012 NBA Champions last week.
The President thanked Spoelstra for the gesture.
Spoelstra, who was born to a Filipino mother, also presented the President with an autographed NBA T-shirt in a courtesy call in Malacañang in August 2011.
The shirt was inscribed with the message: “To President Aquino, you inspire all of us to make a difference. – Coach Spo.”
Spoelstra visited the Philippines last year and conducted NBA-style basketball clinics for young Filipino ball players.
The young coach earlier said he hopes that his success as in the NBA “opens more doors” for Filipinos.