Eric Celino Spoelstra, is the first ever Filipino-American head coach to call the shots for an NBA team. The 2006 NBA Champions Miami Heat chose the 37-year-old to replace outgoing coach Pat Riley. Spoelstra who traces his roots to San Pablo, Laguna is the first mentor with Filipino roots and youngest to ever coach in the league.
“I believe Erik Spoelstra is one of the most talented young coaches in a long time,” Riley, who steered the Heat to the NBA crown in 2006, told a news conference.
Spoelstra, son of Irish-Dutch Jon Spoelstra, a long-time NBA executive involved with the Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets and New Jersey Nets, said he’s proud of his Filipino roots even as he previously said he regretted declining an offer to play in the PBA.
Born in Portland, Spoelstra, whose mother Fe Celino is from San Pablo, Laguna, has been to the Philippines only once.At the time of his appointment as head coach, Spoelstra just completed his 13th season as a member of the Heat staff and his seventh in the role of assistant coach/director of scouting where he had the primary role of developing game plans for upcoming opponents.
Spoelstra was responsible for coordinating the video staff and advance scouts while also overseeing the development of scouting reports and videos. He has been in charge of the Heat’s Individual Player Development Program and has served as the head coach of the Heat’s summer league squad each of the past three summers.
Spoelstra originally joined the Heat as the team’s video coordinator in 1995. He spent two years in that role where he was responsible for preparing scouting tapes and heading up the team’s information technology for the coaching staff.
Born on Nov. 1, 1970, Spoelstra has become the NBA’s youngest current head coach, 69 days younger than the second youngest head coach, Lawrence Frank of the New Jersey Nets.
A 1992 graduate from the University of Portland, Spoelstra was the starting point guard for four years for the Pilots and was named the West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year. After college he spent two years as a player/coach for Tus Herten, a team in the professional sports league of Germany.
Cited by Sports Illustrated (May 30, 2005) for his work in honing star guard Dwyane Wade’s shooting balance and smoothing out his release after the Flash’s return from the Athens Olympics, Spoelstra said working with Riley and predecessor Stan Van Gundy has been an awesome learning experience.
However, Spoelstra will have a lot of rebuilding to do as the Heat, hobbled by injuries to key players, including Wade, and hampered by the loss of Shaquille O’Neal in a trade with Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks, finished with the worst record this season with a woeful 15-67 (win-loss) mark. (Source: The Pinoy.Net:The Portal for the Global Filipino)