Championship vindicates NBA’s first Fil-Am coach
MIAMI—No longer is anyone talking if Erik Spoelstra, the first Asian and the first Filipino-American to coach an NBA team, would have a job next season.
Spoelstra doused that talk when the Miami Heat overpowered the Oklahoma City Thunder in Thursday’s finals, 121-106, to achieve the “toughest” goal he had set for his team and for himself.
“We knew we had the confidence in what we could do but it would be a long season and it would be a tough road,” the Heat head coach said after the game. “We kept saying all year long it would be the toughest thing we’d have to do in our professional lives to get back to here and finally get those four wins.”
Addressing the cheering crowd at AmericanAirlines Arena, he said: “We love you, Miami. Thank you for your patience.”
Job in jeopardy
There had been talk before the championship series that Spoelstra’s job was in jeopardy.
“Guess they didn’t need Phil Jackson after all,” senior NBA blogger Matt Moore said in the Eye on Basketball blog on CBS Sports.
Moore added: “He’s not a disciplinarian, or a player’s coach. He’s just a tactician who put together the year to provide the payoff to the promise … . The former video coordinator has now reached the summit. He coached the Heat to the championship and that puts him in rarified company.”
Spoelstra, 41, first joined the Heat as the team’s video coordinator in 1995. He was later promoted to assistant coach and director of scouting before being named head coach in 2008.
Spoelstra was born to a Filipino mother, Elisa Celino, of San Pablo City, Laguna. His father, Jon Spoelstra, was a longtime NBA executive who worked with the Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets and New Jersey Nets.
An article on the official website of the NBA said Erik Spoelstra won over the Heat players “because he treats all of them the same.”
Referring to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, it said: “No special rules for the Big Three and a separate set for the rest. He will [and has] told LeBron and Wade and Chris Bosh what he expects and accepts nothing less.”
His father Jon said: “I’ve got to admit. Never did I think the kid I took to games would someday be an NBA coach. He was just Erik.” With reports from Miami Herald, CBSSports.com and NBA.com