Erik Spoelstra is starting his third season as Head Coach of the Miami HEAT, and his 16th within the HEAT organization. He was elevated to his current post on April 28, 2008 when HEAT President Pat Riley stepped down as Head Coach.
Prior to taking over the reigns as the sixth head coach in Miami history, Spoelstra was known around the league for his game preparation and superb attention to detail as the HEAT’s Assistant Coach/Director of Scouting. In his last seven seasons in that position he had the primary role of developing game plans for the HEAT’s upcoming opponents. To that end, he coordinated the video staff and advance scouts while overseeing the development of scouting reports and videos.
Spoelstra has earned the respect of players throughout the league with a strong reputation as a teacher over the years by heading the HEAT’s Individual Player Development Program. As an assistant coach before, where he also served for three seasons (2005-07) as the head coach of the HEAT’s summer league team, and as the HEAT’s head man now, he has worked tirelessly with many of the HEAT’s young players in areas of fundamentals, skill development and shooting. It’s his continually stressing the fundamentals and working with his players that helped the HEAT set a franchise-record in 2008-09 for fewest turnovers in a season, shattering the old record by committing 96 fewer turnovers, despite also recording their highest team scoring average since the 2005-06 NBA championship season.
Additionally, Spoelstra helped design and integrate a proprietary statistical database and scouting software for the HEAT. Under Spoelstra, the HEAT continues to embrace the use of technology and continues to use the state-of-the-art statistical software to evaluate team productivity, individual player productivity and trends for both the HEAT and the team’s opponents. That use of technology as a teaching tool also included putting the team’s video playbook on iPods for his players.
Before becoming Head Coach, Erik spent 13 years in a variety of roles within the organization, including the team’s Video Coordinator, Assistant Coach / Video Coordinator, Assistant Coach / Advance Scout, and Assistant Coach / Director of Scouting. He also served as head coach of the HEAT’s summer league squad for three seasons (2005 – 07).
As head coaching debuts go, Spoelstra orchestrated an impressive one. Guiding one of the NBA’s youngest rosters, with four of its top seven players garnering only two years or less of NBA experience, Spoelstra turned in one of the best coaching performances in the NBA during his 2008-09 rookie season. Under his guidance the HEAT recorded its greatest single-season improvement in franchise history. He took a 15-win team from the previous season and directed them to a 28-win improvement, marking the greatest single-season improvement ever by a rookie head coach in NBA history, bettering the previous record of a 20-win improvement by former Chicago Bulls Head Coach Ed Badger during the 1976-77 season. It also marked the seventh-best single-season improvement in NBA history by any coach. As a result of a 43-win regular season which surpassed the franchise record for most wins by a head coach in his first season guiding the HEAT, Spoelstra led Miami to the 2009 NBA Playoffs. The 2009 postseason appearance made Miami just the second team in NBA history to win 15-or-fewer games one year and make the postseason the next, only the San Diego Rockets had previously achieved that feat during the 1968-69 season. Ironically, HEAT President Pat Riley, the person that elevated Spoelstra to his current post, was a member of that Rockets team.
In 1992, he graduated from the University of Portland with a degree in communications. While attending the University of Portland, Erik was the starting point guard for all four years and was named the West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year. He also spent two years as a player / coach for Tus Herten, a team in the professional sports league of Germany.
A team member of the NBA FIT initiative, Erik takes pride in encouraging families to engage in physical activity and healthy living practices with their children. Additionally, Erik created “Spo’s Shooters” in conjunction with the Miami HEAT Community Education Ticket Program. This program reaches out to South Florida’s less fortunate student athletes and gives them the opportunity to enjoy HEAT games and meet their favorite HEAT players and role models.
During the 2009 off-season, Erik participated with the NBA and the U.S. State Department Good Will Sports Envoy Trip to his native Philippines, while hosting basketball clinics and promoting the importance of education, health and wellness to thousands of at-risk youth.
Spoelstra is the son of Jon Spoelstra, a long-time NBA executive who has guided the Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets, Buffalo Braves and New Jersey Nets. His grandfather, Watson, was a Detroit Tigers beat writer for many years.
Raised in Portland, Oregon, Spoelstra is the first Asian/Filipino-American head coach in any of the major North American sports leagues. Most recently, Erik was inducted into the Jesuit High School Athletic Hall of Fame in September 2009.