Spoelstra would always find way to come back to PhilippinesBy Celest R. Flores
MANILA, Philippines — A trip to the Philippines will always have space in Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra’s packed calendar.
Never mind there’s a gruelling training camp for the coming NBA season for the defending champion Miami he has to focus on, Spoelstra wasn’t planning on missing a chance to pay a visit.
“It was a busy month, but I told my assistant to find a way to come back here in the Philippines,” said Spoelstra, who’s actually on his fourth visit representing the NBA.
Spoelstra has always taken time each year to visit his mother’s hometown, but this visit was a little different than the last — he’s coming here as a new world champion coach.
“This is an excellent opportunity for me to come back here and share the joy we’ve had last month with our fans,” said Spoelstra.
And while many Heat fans celebrated as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh hoisted the championship trophy, Spoelstra’s mother — who hails from San Pablo, Laguna — had a different reaction.
“She just cried,” shared a beaming Spoelstra, who went on to say her mother preferred to watch at home than at the Arena.
And sharing that Larry O’ Brien trophy, which will be displayed in select SM malls this weekend, with the basketball crazed-Filipino fans is always an experience he cherished.
“It staggers our players how popular the NBA is here, 10,000 miles away,” said Spoelstra.
“I take a lot of pride that I’m the first Fil-American head coach in any American sports league to win a championship,” said the 42-year-old coach, who incidentally is not the youngest mentor in the NBA anymore.
Spoelstra has always been proud of his Asian heritage, but he thinks these things don’t matter when it comes to opportunities in basketball.
“The world is changing. We are seeing that race and heritage doesn’t matter,” said Spoelstra.
But with the feat he has achieved in such an iconic and popular league like the NBA, it was obvious that the chances for Asian players or coaches are actually limitless.
“I hope that opens the doors for others,” Spoelstra said.