Spoelstra wants Pacquiao to hang out with Heat
MIAMI—Erik Spoelstra would like Manny Pacquiao to come hang out with the Miami Heat, but don’t look for him to add the Filipino boxing champ to the coaching staff anytime soon.
“That won’t happen, but I’d love to have him come out and spend some time with the team,” Spoelstra said on Tuesday.
Being a basketball coach is just the latest role for eight-time world champion boxer Pacquiao, who has also tried his hand at politics, acting and preaching. “Even when I was a kid, even before I learned to box, basketball was my first love,” he said.
Recently, Pacquiao announced plans to become the player-coach of the newly created Kia Motors team when the next season of the Philippine Basketball Association opens in October.
Spoelstra is wildly popular in the Philippines, as the Filipino-American coach of the two-time defending NBA champion Heat. But even he acknowledges his status might have been surpassed by superstar Pacquiao.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” Spoelstra said of Pacquiao becoming a coach. “He’s a tremendous fan of basketball and the NBA. He plays pickup all the time. But I’m sure (boxing trainer) Freddie Roach doesn’t appreciate that.”
Spoelstra will travel to the Philippines during the off season to conduct basketball clinics and he hopes to attend one of Pacquiao’s games.
“I’ll try to make it out and see if I can catch a game this summer,” said Spoelstra, whose Heat are trailing 1-2 with the San Antonio Spurs in the best-of-seven NBA championship finals heading into Thursday’s (Friday in Manila) Game 4.
“I’ll hopefully be able to see him this summer, see what’s up,” Spoelstra said. “Maybe I’ll check out a practice.”
But a Spoelstra-Pacquiao coaching matchup is probably not going to happen. Spoelstra simply shook his head at that farfetched notion.
“Well, I’m not taking a boxing job,” said Spoelstra, who has close ties to his mother’s homeland. “But I know he’s a huge basketball fan.”
If Pacquiao pushes through with his basketball career, he would have to do so while training for an upcoming fight in November and serving his constituents as a congressman. The opponent remains unclear, though there’s speculation that it could be a fifth bout against Juan Manuel Marquez.
Pacquiao has been fighting professionally since age 16 and is 56-5-2 in his brilliant career.
“He has an incredible way of managing all the different things on his plate. I couldn’t do that,” said Spoelstra, who is the first Filipino-American head coach in any of the major North American pro sports.–Reports from AFP and AP