Childhood & Early Life
Erik was born Erik Jon Spoelstra, on November 1, 1970, in Evanston, Illinois, to author, sports marketer, and former ‘NBA’ executive Jon Spoelstra and his Filipino wife, Elisa Celino. Erik and his family moved to Buffalo, New York, and then, toward the end of the decade, they settled in Portland, Oregon. He is the only son and the younger of the two children of his parents.
Erik attended 'Raleigh Hills Elementary' and 'Whitford Jr. High School.' He was an excellent basketball point guard at 'Jesuit High School' in Beaverton, Oregon. In high school, Erik wore jersey number 30 in honor of one of his favorite ‘NBA’ players, Terry Porter of 'Trail Blazer.' His name is mentioned in the school's 1,000-point club.
Erik participated in Sonny Vaccaro's 'Nike All-Star' camp in Princeton, New Jersey, before his senior year. He received basketball scholarship offers from several universities, but he accepted the scholarship from the 'University of Portland' and graduated with a degree in communications in 1992. He was the 'West Coast Conference' freshman of the year in 1989.
Throughout his 4 years with the 'Portland Pilots,’ Erik was their starting point guard. He is among the top 'Pilots' players who have scored their career-bests in several statistical categories.
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Erik began his career in 1993, as a player-assistant coach for 'Basketball Bundesliga's second division. He coached the local youth team of 'TuS Herten,' a Westphalia, Germany-based professional basketball club, for 2 years, after which he developed back problems and contemplated having a surgery.
In 1995, 'TuS Herten' offered Erik a 2-year extension of the contract. At the same time, the ‘NBA' team 'Miami Heat' also offered him a position. He chose the latter.
The 'Miami Heat' position was offered to Erik after Roya Vaziri, the erstwhile director of ‘Heat,' convinced the then-general manager, Dave Wohl. However, he joined the team as a video coordinator and not as a coach. Two years later, he became 'Heat's assistant coach and simultaneously continued with the video coordinator’s job.
In 1999, Erik was promoted as 'Heat's advance scout. He became the team's director of scouting in 2001. Under Erik, 'Miami Heat's star shooting guard Dwyane Wade improved his game. This was required, especially after the 2004 'Summer Olympics.'
Erik's first achievement as 'Miami Heat's assistant coach was the team’s win in the 2006 ‘NBA’ championship, defeating the 'Dallas Mavericks' in the finals. Following this, in April 2008, he became 'Heat's head coach after the former coach, Pat Riley, withdrew. With this, Erik became the first-ever Asian–American ‘NBA’ assistant coach in the history of the four major North American sports leagues.
Despite such a remarkable performance, Erik faced some opposition from the team during the 2010–2011 season, when he was promoted to the position of head coach. Some of the players reported to be "frustrated" with him and questioned if he should continue with the team. The team had a poor start to the season, which put Erik's position under a question mark.
Fortunately, 'Heat' bounced back and made the second-best record in the 'Eastern Conference.' However, the team lost the 2011 ‘NBA’ finals. Due to Erik's major failure in his debut season as the head coach, he was on the verge of losing the position.
The position was then offered to Riley. He turned it down in support of Erik. The team eventually signed a $6-million contract extension in December 2011, which continued through the 2013–2014 ‘NBA’ season. Erik bounced bank the following season, and 'Heat' defeated the 'Oklahoma City Thunder' in 5 games, to become the ‘NBA’ champion, making Erik the first Asian–American head coach and the second 'Miami Heat' head coach to win the title. He also became the only 'Heat' head coach to lead the team to the ‘NBA’ finals several times.
With Erik as the head coach, 'Miami Heat' recorded their best performance in the 'Eastern Conference' at the time of selection for the 2012–2013 season of the 'NBA All-Star Game.' The team eventually won 27 games, which is the second-longest winning streak in ‘NBA’ history. The 'Heat' got through the finals to face the 'San Antonio Spurs' after winning a 7-game series with the 'Indiana Pacers' in the 'Eastern Conference' finals. By defeating the 'Spurs' in 7 games, 'Heat' became the first team to win two straight titles, after the 'Los Angeles Lakers' in the 2009–2010 season. This made Erik the eighth coach to lead his team to two straight championships.
On September 29, 2013, 'Miami Heat' extended Erik's contract to an undisclosed duration. Even though the details of the contract were not released, it was believed Erik had got a hike and a higher position. He led the team to the 2014 ‘NBA’ finals and became the third coach whose team reached four straight finals.
On December 16, 2017, Erik registered his 455th win (against the 'Los Angeles Clippers,' 90–85) as 'Heat's head coach, which broke Riley's record for most wins in the franchise’s history.
Apart from serving 'Heat,' Erik has been an active participant in the ‘US Department of State's 'SportsUnited Sports Envoy' program. He has traveled to the Philippines twice between 2009 and 2014 and has worked with former basketball players Derrick Alston, Alison Feaster, David Fizdale, and Sue Wicks for conducting basketball clinics and events for the youth, especially those from the underprivileged states. While working with the program, he also supported 'Sports United's mission to improve the status of women and children.
Family & Personal Life
Erik's father, Jon, is of Dutch–Irish–American descent and currently serves as the president of 'Mandalay Sports Entertainment.' He is a former ‘NBA’ executive who has served the 'Buffalo Braves,' the 'Portland Trail Blazers,' the 'Denver Nuggets,' and the 'New Jersey Nets.' Jon is also the co-founder of 'SRO Partners.'
Erik's mother is from San Pablo, Laguna, Philippines. Erik's grandfather, Watson Spoelstra, was a long-time sportswriter for 'The Detroit News.'
On September 17, 2015, Erik was engaged to former 'Miami Heat' cheerleader Nikki Sapp. The two got married on July 22, 2016. On his 47th birthday, Erik announced Nikki's pregnancy through an 'Instagram' picture of the two holding a sonogram. He also revealed the gender of the baby. His son, Santiago Ray Spoelstra, was born on March 25, 2018.