By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
MIAMI HEAT head coach Erik Spoelstra has been with the organization for more than two decades now and it is a choice that he is very grateful for as it led to a very fulfilling and successful coaching career.
Began his Heat journey in 1995 when he was hired as a video coordinator by the team, Filipino-American Spoelstra, whose mother has her roots traced to Laguna, steadily climbed the ranks, eventually claiming the coveted coaching job in South Florida in 2008.
Twelve years since taking the job, Mr. Spoelstra, 49, has helped the Heat to two National Basketball Association titles — 2012 and 2013 — and has kept the team relevant with potential for another ascent high.
“[I’m just grateful] how fortunate I have been with my career. My path could have been different if I worked for a different organization. I find great purpose in being the steward in this culture (Heat),” Mr. Spoelstra, who turns 50 in November, shared to Inside The NBA host Ernie Johnson in the latter’s #NBATogether show last week.
“It fills my cup. We were able to make it to the mountaintop. Now I’m one of the caretakers in taking it to the next chapter,” he added just as the Heat coach said he was looking forward to the challenges ahead of them.
Mr. Spoelstra shared that what he has accomplished to date as a coach has been a result of a lot of things, involving hard work, patience and loyalty.
“I wanted to go into coaching but this was the mid-90s, so the landscape then was different than what it is today. Right now is a fun time to be in this profession. There are a lot of coaches from different backgrounds and you can see a path for yourself,” he said.
“My dad told me to ride this (time with Miami) for as long as it lasts. Never really thought I would be a coach but the organization believed in me,” he added.
As a coach, one of the highlights so far for Mr. Spoelstra was the opportunity to handle a team led by great players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, whom he won their two titles with.
“When we put the team with the ‘Big Three’ there was pressure. We had our struggles prior then we got that team. Boom! I was just excited to coach the team. I got valuable experience from it,” he said.
COACHING IN THE TIME OF COVID-19
Shifting focus on the situation with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Mr. Spoelstra said they are trying to squeeze in as much work as they can although admitted that right now there are far more important things to address and give attention to.
“We’re keeping communication with the team consistently. We are the Miami Heat, we know how to work and we know how to grind. But right now it’s not about that. This is not about competition, this is bigger than basketball,” said Mr. Spoelstra, whose team was fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 41–24 record when the season was suspended by the league on March 11 because of COVID-19.
“Our communication is more for connection and having some laughs and getting the guys with some routine. We’re taking such an approach. I don’t know if that’s the right approach but that’s it,” he added.
Mr. Spoelstra also gave credit to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver for handling the situation with the pandemic the best way he can and taking into consideration every option available in deciding whether to resume with the season or not.
The Miami coach takes its positive as well that Florida is in the process of opening up things and looking to rise amid COVID-19 albeit cautioned that people should remain vigilant and continue to look after their health and safety.
“The world is taking small steps. This has been relatively scary and Florida is going to Phase One… There is a flickering of the light we are feeling but it’s important we stay vigilant,” he said.
“There will be brighter days ahead and we just have to stay the course.”