So a Filipino finally made it to the NBA! Not as a player but we'll take one as a coach for now. Erik Spoelstra, just got promoted as the head coach of the Miami Heat after being an assistant for 13 years or so. His mom is a Filipina named Fe Celino, so he's a bona fide Fil-Am.
To tell you the truth, I first heard about Erik Spoelstra through the marketing books of his dad Jon Spoelstra. Jon used to talk about his son's passion for coaching growing up while he was a top executive with the Portland Trailblazers and then the New Jersey Nets. In fact there was already a Philippine connection as Jon spoke highly of Billy Ray Bates (who many consider the best PBA import of all time) as a positive influence on the Blazers team. "Ice to the Eskimos" and "Marketing Outrageously" are two must reads if you're into marketing and Jon writes it in such a simple practical manner.
As mentioned in a previous entry, I got to spend time with Wayne Simien who played under Erick (with Pat Riley as head coach) as a rookie when the Heat won the championship. He did say that Erik was so talented as a coach that he should be the next in line after Riley. I don't think he expected it to happen a month later but it's a great opportunity for all of us to finally witness his talent at the forefront. Of course being an assistant is different from being the head but Erik's seems like he's had the training for what he's about to undertake. Good luck coach Spoelstra and I hope we can meet someday. I'm a big fan of your dad's.
I found a very encouraging quote from Erick while he was still an assistant earlier this year from an article by Nick Vicera of Filipinas magazine:
"But there is one thing that I am definitely interest in doing in the future, and that is helping develop basketball in the Philippines. I have been talking recently with the NBA about me putting together basketball clinics in my mother's home country, hopefully in one of these next couple of off-seasons. It will be a wonderful chance to see some of my family over there and reconnected with my roots," he grins.
We're all rooting for you Erik.