With the NBA’s Philippine Heritage Week set to hit next week, PlayPH takes a look at some facts you may not have known about the league’s first Asian (who just happens to be a Fil-Am!) Coach, the Miami Heat’s Eric Spoelstra.
A varsity player in high school and college, Spoelstra became a player/assistant coach in Germany until a back injury and an offer to work with the Miami Heat made him shift his energies.
His is the second longest ongoing coaching tenure in the NBA behind Gregg Popovich. In February 2017, he was named NBA Easter Conference Coach of the Month, the most in franchise history.
In 1995, he was doing everything and everything from picking up the Miami Heat’s lunch orders and dry cleaning to heading up their video production unit – despite not knowing a thing about video – just to be near the game of basketball.
Spoelstra was a scout, then an assistant, before being personally selected by Miami Heat President and NBA Legend Pat Riley to serve as Head Coach.
With a mom from the Philippines and an American dad, Coach Spo is proudly Pinoy. But he’s not just the first Asian-American Coach in the NBA, he’s the first Asian-American Coach in ANY of the four major American sports leagues!