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Erik Spoelstra

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Erik Spoelstra
Spoelstra before the 2022 NBA All-Star Game
Miami Heat
PositionHead coach
Personal information
Born (1970-11-01) November 1, 1970 (age 53)
Evanston, Illinois, U.S.
Listed height6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Listed weight180 lb (82 kg)
Career information
High schoolJesuit (Beaverton, Oregon)
CollegePortland (1988–1992)
NBA draft1992: undrafted
Playing career1993–1995
PositionPoint guard
Coaching career1993–present
Career history
As player:
1993–1995TuS Herten
As coach:
1993–1995TuS Herten (assistant)
19972008Miami Heat (assistant)
2008–presentMiami Heat
Career highlights and awards
As player:
  • WCC Freshman of the Year (1989)

As head coach:

As assistant coach:

Erik Jon Spoelstra (/ˈsplstrə/ SPOHL-strə; born November 1, 1970),[1][2] nicknamed "Coach Spo", is an American professional basketball coach who is the head coach for the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Spoelstra is widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the league and one of the greatest of all time.[3][4] He has won two NBA championships as the head coach of the Heat. A partially Filipino American, Spoelstra is the first partially Asian American head coach in the history of the four major North American sports leagues[5][6] and the first Asian American head coach to win an NBA title.[6]

Spoelstra played college basketball with the Portland Pilots before playing professionally and coaching in Germany. He served as assistant coach and director of scouting for the Heat from 2001 to 2008, during which time the team won the 2006 NBA Finals.[7] He was promoted to head coach in the 2008–09 season. The Heat have made six NBA Finals appearances during Spoelstra's tenure, winning consecutive championships in 2012 and 2013.

Early life and education[edit]

Spoelstra was born in Evanston, Illinois, to Jon Spoelstra and Elisa Celino.[8][9] Jon, an American of Dutch and Irish descent,[10] is a former NBA executive of the Buffalo Braves, Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets, and New Jersey Nets.[7][11] Elisa is a native of San Pablo, Laguna, Philippines.[10] Spoelstra is also the grandson of Watson Spoelstra, a long-time sportswriter for The Detroit News.[12]

Erik Spoelstra spent his childhood in Buffalo, New York, before moving to Portland, Oregon by the late 1970s.[13][14] He attended Raleigh Hills Elementary and Whitford Jr. High School in Portland, before attending Jesuit High School in Beaverton, Oregon, where he excelled at point guard on the basketball team.[13] He wore number 30 during high school and college in honor of then-Trail Blazer Terry Porter, one of his favorite NBA players.[8] Before his senior year, Spoelstra participated in Sonny Vaccaro's Nike All-Star camp in Princeton, New Jersey, alongside future NBA players Alonzo Mourning, Shawn Kemp, Billy Owens, and Bobby Hurley.[13]

College career[edit]

Spoelstra received basketball scholarship offers, and eventually accepted one from the University of Portland in his hometown.[13] In 1989, he was named West Coast Conference (WCC) freshman of the year.[15] Spoelstra was the Pilots' starting point guard for four years, averaging 9.2 points, 4.4 assists, and 2.4 rebounds per game.[15] He is a member of the school's 1,000-point club, and is among the Pilots' career leaders in several statistical categories.[15] During a 1990 WCC basketball tournament game against Loyola Marymount, Spoelstra was on the court standing just a couple of yards away from Hank Gathers when Gathers collapsed and died of a heart condition.[13] Spoelstra graduated from the University of Portland in 1992 with a degree in communications.[16]

Professional career[edit]

TuS Herten (1993–1995)[edit]

After college, Spoelstra initially boxed shoes at a Nike warehouse.[17] He had originally planned to play basketball in the Philippines; he had watched their games on VHS tape for years. However, the paperwork to play in the country got delayed.[18] He instead went to Germany, spending two years (1993–1995) in Basketball Bundesliga's second division as a player–assistant coach for TuS Herten, a professional club based in Westphalia.[17][19][20] It was in this setting where Spoelstra got his first coaching job, as coach of the club's local youth team.[13] He began having back problems after the end of his second year with the team, and contemplated having surgery.[12] In 1995, Spoelstra was offered another two-year contract with the club, but the NBA's Miami Heat also offered him a position. Although both offers held appeal, he chose to take the Heat position.[8]

Coaching career[edit]

Miami Heat (1995–present)[edit]

Assistant coach (1997–2008)[edit]

Chris Wallace, then the director of player personnel for the Heat, convinced then general manager Dave Wohl to offer Spoelstra a position with the team.[21] Spoelstra was hired as the Heat's video coordinator in 1995, although at first he was not promised the position past the summer of that year.[8] Pat Riley was named the Heat's head coach not long after Spoelstra's hiring. Erik's father, Jon Spoelstra, said, "Contractually, Riley wasn't allowed to bring in his video guy, otherwise, Erik would have been out of a job right then."[12]

After two years as video coordinator, he then served two years as an assistant coach/video coordinator. Spoelstra was promoted to assistant coach/advance scout in 1999, and later became the Heat's assistant coach/director of scouting in 2001.[7] Many of Spoelstra's colleagues attribute his ascent in the Heat coaching ranks to his strong work ethic.[13][21] As an assistant coach, he was credited for improving Heat star shooting guard Dwyane Wade's balance and jump shot after Wade's return from the 2004 Summer Olympics.[6] Spoelstra won his first NBA championship as an assistant coach when the Miami Heat defeated the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Finals.

Head coach promotion and struggles (2008–2011)[edit]

Spoelstra presents President Barack Obama a team trophy in January 2014.[22]

In April 2008, Spoelstra became the head coach of the Miami Heat after Pat Riley's decision to step down. Spoelstra was Riley's hand-picked successor.[23] 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."[7] Spoelstra became the first Asian American head coach in the NBA, and the first Asian American head coach in the history of the four major North American sports leagues.[6] He led the Heat to the NBA Playoffs in his first year as head coach, despite the team's league worst record of 15-67 the previous season.[24] The Heat, however, were defeated in seven games by the Atlanta Hawks in the first round. Spoelstra's team once again reached the postseason the following season, but again lost in the first round to the Boston Celtics in five games.[24]

Expectations of the team's success were raised significantly for the next season and beyond, after the free agent acquisitions of LeBron James and Chris Bosh in the summer of 2010. After the team started off the 2010–11 season with a 9–8 record, some Heat players reportedly were "frustrated" with Spoelstra, and questioned if he should remain their head coach.[25] Chris Bosh intimated that the team was being worked too hard and that the players would rather "chill".[26] LeBron James famously bumped into Spoelstra on his way to the bench during a timeout in a game.[27] These two issues, coupled with the relatively poor start to the season, put Spoelstra on the coaching hot seat. The team bounced back, however, and made the playoffs while posting the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. Spoelstra led the Heat to an appearance in the 2011 NBA Finals, but lost to the Dallas Mavericks in six games. After Spoelstra failed to win a championship during his first season as head coach of the "big three" (James, Wade and Bosh), Heat executive Pat Riley was asked if he would consider returning to coach the team.[28] Riley, however, turned down the idea and supported Spoelstra as the head coach going forward.[28] Spoelstra received a $6 million contract extension in December 2011 which lasted through the 2013–14 NBA season.[29]

Back-to-back championship run (2011–2013)[edit]

Spoelstra (in front) during the 2012 playoffs

The following season, Spoelstra again guided the team to the postseason as the two seed. The Heat overcame a 2–1 game deficit against the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, and a 3–2 game deficit against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals to reach the 2012 NBA Finals despite an injury to starter Chris Bosh that forced him to miss nine straight games.[30] Spoelstra's Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games to win the NBA championship. He became the first Asian American head coach to win an NBA championship,[6] and the second Heat head coach to win the title. He also became the only Miami Heat head coach to take the team to the NBA Finals multiple times.

During the 2012–13 season, Spoelstra was selected as head coach of the 2013 Eastern Conference All-Stars in the 2013 NBA All-Star Game, with the Heat holding the best record in the Eastern Conference at the time of selection. He later coached the Heat to a 27-game winning streak (third longest in NBA history). It started with a 100–85 win over the Toronto Raptors on February 3, 2013, and ended with a 97–101 loss to the Chicago Bulls on March 27, 2013. The team made the playoffs as the one seed while posting the best overall NBA regular season record. After sweeping the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, the Heat won a seven-game series with the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals, and advanced to face the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals. The Heat defeated the Spurs in seven games.

Later years (2013–present)[edit]

On September 29, 2013, the Heat extended Spoelstra's contract to an undisclosed multi-year deal. Details were not released, but Spoelstra was expected to receive a pay raise and a bigger role in the front office. Spoelstra led the Heat to the 2014 NBA Finals, becoming the third coach to lead his team to four straight Finals. The Heat faced the San Antonio Spurs once again, only this time losing the series in five games.[31][32]

On December 16, 2017, Spoelstra got his 455th win as the head coach of the Heat and passed Riley for most wins in franchise history, when they defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 90–85.[33] Topping off the 2016–17 season, Spoelstra was named the NBCA Co-Coach of the Year after leading the Heat to a 30 win record in the final 41 games of the season.

During the 2019–20 season, Spoelstra coached the Heat to the 2020 NBA Finals before falling 4–2 to the Los Angeles Lakers.

On April 28, 2021, Spoelstra earned his 600th win as the Heat's head coach, and also became the sixth head coach in NBA history to win 600 games with one team.[34]

On February 6, 2022, Spoelstra was named as the Eastern Conference head coach for the 2022 NBA All-Star Game.[35]

On March 13, 2023, Spoelstra won his 697th game, which ranks him 20th on the all-time wins list among NBA head coaches. He surpassed Red Holzman and currently sits behind John MacLeod on the list.[36]

During the 2022–23 season, Spoelstra coached the 8-seed Heat to the 2023 NBA Finals, his sixth appearance as head coach,[37] but lost the series to the Denver Nuggets in five games.[38]

Personal life[edit]

After a brief engagement with Analia Romero, Spoelstra announced his engagement to former Miami Heat dancer, Nikki Sapp.[39] They married in July 2016 and have three children.[40] In November 2023, Spoelstra and his wife divorced.[40]

Head coaching record[edit]

Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win–loss %
Playoffs PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win–loss %
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
Miami 2008–09 82 43 39 .524 3rd in Southeast 7 3 4 .429 Lost in First round
Miami 2009–10 82 47 35 .573 3rd in Southeast 5 1 4 .200 Lost in First round
Miami 2010–11 82 58 24 .707 1st in Southeast 21 14 7 .667 Lost in NBA Finals
Miami 2011–12 66 46 20 .697 1st in Southeast 23 16 7 .696 Won NBA Championship
Miami 2012–13 82 66 16 .805 1st in Southeast 23 16 7 .696 Won NBA Championship
Miami 2013–14 82 54 28 .659 1st in Southeast 20 13 7 .650 Lost in NBA Finals
Miami 2014–15 82 37 45 .451 3rd in Southeast Missed playoffs
Miami 2015–16 82 48 34 .585 1st in Southeast 14 7 7 .500 Lost in Conference semifinals
Miami 2016–17 82 41 41 .500 3rd in Southeast Missed playoffs
Miami 2017–18 82 44 38 .537 1st in Southeast 5 1 4 .200 Lost in First round
Miami 2018–19 82 39 43 .476 3rd in Southeast Missed playoffs
Miami 2019–20 73 44 29 .603 1st in Southeast 21 14 7 .667 Lost in NBA Finals
Miami 2020–21 72 40 32 .556 2nd in Southeast 4 0 4 .000 Lost in First round
Miami 2021–22 82 53 29 .646 1st in Southeast 18 11 7 .611 Lost in Conference finals
Miami 2022–23 82 44 38 .537 1st in Southeast 23 13 10 .565 Lost in NBA Finals
Miami 2023–24 82 46 36 .561 2nd in Southeast 5 1 4 .200 Lost in First round
Career 1,277 750 527 .587   189 110 79 .582  

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Terrado, Reuben (August 2, 2012). "Pamahiin in Spo's family: Mom skipped Finals, for fear of jinxing Heat bid". SPIN.ph.
  2. ^ Winderman, Ira (April 29, 2008). "Spoelstra has been around the game since childhood". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Archived from the original on November 1, 2013. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  3. ^ "Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra Named to Top 15 Coaches in NBA History". NBA.com.
  4. ^ "Heat's improbable Finals run proves what we already knew: Erik Spoelstra is an all-time great NBA coach". May 31, 2023.
  5. ^ Arnovitz, Kevin (February 13, 2012). "Erik Spoelstra Impressed By Jeremy Lin". ESPN. Archived from the original on November 3, 2013. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d e Medina, Andrei (June 22, 2012). "Fil-Am Coach Erik Spoelstra Steers Heat to Historic NBA Win". GMA News. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d "Riley Steps Down, Spoelstra Named Head Coach". NBA.com. April 28, 2008. Archived from the original on July 8, 2013. Retrieved June 26, 2013.
  8. ^ a b c d Martin, Jeffrey (May 15, 2013). "Long Before Miami, Spoelstra's Work Ethic Known". USA Today. Retrieved June 26, 2013.
  9. ^ Henson, Joaquin (August 27, 2011). "Spoelstra, Sis Back Next Year?". Philstar.com. Archived from the original on March 6, 2014. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  10. ^ a b "Spoelstra First Filipino NBA Head Coach". Inquirer.net. May 3, 2008. Archived from the original on June 30, 2012. Retrieved June 26, 2013.
  11. ^ Robertson, Linda (June 16, 2013). "Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra Learned Valuable Lessons From His Father". The Miami Herald. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
  12. ^ a b c Abrams, Jonathan (May 28, 2011). "Spoelstra Raised to Be in N.B.A., and Rising to Challenge". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 27, 2014. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Arnovitz, Kevin (June 1, 2011). "The Mystery Guest Has Arrived". ESPN. Archived from the original on November 6, 2013. Retrieved June 26, 2013.
  14. ^ Eggers, Kerry (May 8, 2008). "Erik Spoelstra can take the heat". Portland Tribune. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  15. ^ a b c "Former UP Standout Erik Spoelstra Leads Miami Heat to NBA Title". Portland Pilots. June 22, 2012. Archived from the original on May 21, 2014. Retrieved June 26, 2013.
  16. ^ Vicera, Nick (January 11, 2007). "Erik Spoelstra: He Puts the Heat On". Filipinas. Archived from the original on May 21, 2014. Retrieved June 26, 2013.
  17. ^ a b Jenkins, Lee (September 24, 2014). "From 'The Dungeon' to the top: Erik Spoelstra's rise with the Heat". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  18. ^ Reynolds, Tim (August 24, 2023). "Erik Spoelstra believes coaching in Philippines at World Cup is a perfect homecoming". The Associated Press. Retrieved August 26, 2023.
  19. ^ "NBA Finals 2013: Is Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra Latino? The Answer Is Revealed Here". Latinospost.com. June 16, 2013. Archived from the original on March 2, 2014. Retrieved June 26, 2013.
  20. ^ Walle, Dean (September 20, 2010). "Die Erwartungen sind immens". Spiegel (in German). Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  21. ^ a b Benjamin, Amalie (June 3, 2012). "On the Hot Seat, Erik Spoelstra Has Stayed Cool for Miami Heat". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on June 7, 2014. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
  22. ^ Megan Slack; Zara Rahim (January 14, 2014). "President Obama Welcomes the 2013 NBA Champions the Miami Heat". whitehouse.gov. Archived from the original on February 5, 2017. Retrieved July 16, 2014 – via National Archives.
  23. ^ "Heat Give Erik Spoelstra New Contract". Reuters. December 16, 2011. Archived from the original on June 6, 2014. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
  24. ^ a b Zimmerman, Kevin (April 18, 2013). "Heat Playoff History: Pat Riley Built the Ship, but Erik Spoelstra is Captaining the Big Three". SB Nation. Archived from the original on June 6, 2014. Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  25. ^ Isola, Frank (November 29, 2010). "LeBron James Leading Mutiny Against Erik Spoelstra as 'Big Three' Play Small With Miami Heat". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
  26. ^ "Quote of the Night: Chris Bosh wants to chill". November 18, 2010. Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  27. ^ "LeBron James, Spoelstra downplay bump in the night". Retrieved August 27, 2015.
  28. ^ a b Wallace, Michael (June 21, 2011). "Pat Riley Won't Coach, Heat Will Contend". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on May 21, 2014. Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  29. ^ Windhorst, Brian (December 17, 2011). "Erik Spoelstra Gets New Contract". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on May 21, 2014. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
  30. ^ Goodman, Joseph (June 10, 2012). "Miami Heat Defeats Boston Celtics in Game 7, Advances to NBA Finals". The Miami Herald. Archived from the original on February 25, 2014. Retrieved July 1, 2013.
  31. ^ "Heat extend coach Erik Spoelstra". ESPN.com. September 29, 2013. Archived from the original on September 29, 2013. Retrieved September 29, 2013.
  32. ^ Michael Wallace (September 29, 2013). "What Spoelstra extension means for LeBron". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on October 1, 2013. Retrieved October 5, 2013.
  33. ^ "Richardson has 28 points to lead Heat past Clippers". Sportsnet.ca. December 16, 2017. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  34. ^ "Spoelstra gets win No. 600, Heat top Spurs 116-111". ESPN.com. April 28, 2021. Retrieved May 1, 2021. Spoelstra joined a very small group with the milestone win. The only other coaches to win 600 games with one franchise: Popovich with the Spurs (1,308), Jerry Sloan with Utah (1,127), Red Auerbach with Boston (795), Red Holzman with New York (613) and Phil Jackson with the Los Angeles Lakers (610).
  35. ^ "Miami's Erik Spoelstra to coach Team Durant in 2022 NBA All-Star Game". www.nba.com. Retrieved February 7, 2022.
  36. ^ Stinar, Ben (March 13, 2023). "BREAKING: Erik Spoelstra Makes NBA History On Monday Night". Fastbreak on FanNation. Retrieved June 6, 2023.
  37. ^ Cacciola, Scott (May 29, 2023). "Miami Heat beat Boston Celtics to go go the NBA Finals". New York Times. Retrieved June 2, 2023.
  38. ^ "Nuggets take home 1st NBA title in rugged 94-89 win over Heat". ESPN. June 12, 2023. Retrieved June 13, 2023.
  39. ^ "Heat coach slyly announces engagement to former dancer". September 17, 2015.
  40. ^ a b Chiang, Anthony (November 29, 2023). "Erik and Nikki Spoelstra announce divorce after seven years of marriage". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on December 5, 2023. Retrieved January 6, 2024.

External links[edit]