Erik Spoelstra, the head coach of the Miami Heat was under a lot of pressure prior to the finals of the 2010-2011 National Basket Ball Association season. His team had been able to reach the finals, and the championship was within reach. But they still had to defeat the Dallas Mavericks, who had the same ambition to win the series as the Heat. Although the coach is not the only person responsible for the outcome, his position puts him in a critical position.
How had a person such as Erik Spoelstra been able to reach the pinnacle of basketball coaching without having played the game as a professional NBA basketball player? Apparently at a young age Erik had become interested in watching and analyzing the game, and over time he had become an expert at the intricacies of the game. He had benefitted of having been able to attend many professional basketball games. His father, Jon Spoelstra, was a basketball executive in the NBA, and would take his son Jon to nearly every game he attended. So over time Erik had developed his knowledge of and expertise in the game.
As a student of the sport in his younger years it was of course not surprising that Erik would be interested in playing basketball during his college years. He was able to make the varsity team at the University of Portland and played point guard. It was not surprising that he was not able to become a professional player in the NBA. But he did play professionally in Germany, and also did some coaching. After doing that for a while, he had to give up his active participation in the sport because of back problems.
Following his departure from being an active player Erik was able to get a position as a video coordinator for the Miami Heat. After a number of years with the Miami Heat organization he moved through the ranks, and eventually became involved in coaching. On April 28, 2008, the General Manager of the Heat, Pat Riley appointed Spoelstra to be the next coach of the Miami Heat. And that was how Spoelstra’s coaching career started at the end of the 2007-2008 season.
Erik Spoelstra is the third member of the Spoelstra sports dynasty. His grandfather was Watson Spoelstra, a noted sports reporter for the Detroit News who covered mostly the games played by the Detroit Tigers baseball team. His grandfather also reported for the Sporting News, and in 1968 was the Baseball Writers Association’s president. In other words, Watson Spoelstra was not just an ordinary reporter. He was what we could call a star sports reporter.
Erik’s father’s claim to fame is not as strong as his grandfather’s. But his father Jon Spoelstra did develop a name in the National Basket Ball Association as an executive for several NBA teams including the Portland Trailblazers, The Denver Nuggets, and the Nets. And it was of course because of Jon’s interest in basketball that Erik also became interested in his father’s sport at an early age.
Erik forms the third and youngest part of the Spoelstra sports dynasty, and he will probably remain the strongest link in that dynasty. It is hard to imagine any future descendant reaching a higher level than that now attained by Erik.
Erik Spoelstra has a strong Dutch American connection, because his name is unquestioningly Dutch, and his grandfather’s parents were both Dutch Americans. But Erik also has two other nationalities in his background. His grandmother was Irish American, and his mother is Philipino American. So technically speaking Erik is 50 percent Philipino, 25 percent Irish and 25 percent Dutch. However, Erik apparently claims that he is from Dutch, Philipino and Irish background in that order. So on that basis all three of his background nationalities can claim him. And his name Spoelstra is unquestioningly Dutch.
At the time of this writing the finals of the 2010-2011 season had not taken place. As a result it is not known how well the Miami Heat did during the championship series, and what the outcome of the series is.
Following the above, the Heat became one of the top basketball teams in the NBA. At the end of the 2013-2014 season the Heat was again in the finals, and was expected to again win the championship.
Spoelstra Was Raised to Be in N.B.A., and Is Rising to the Challenge with the Heat, by Jonathan Abrams, New York Times, Sunday May 29, 2011, page 1, Sports Section
Watson Spoelstra [1910-1999], World Journalism Institute, by Benjamin Hoak,http://www.worldji.com/resources/view/45
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