Erik Spoelstra is a two-time National Basketball Association Championship winning coach. He did so with the Miami Heat whom he currently serves as head coach.
Spoelstra was born Erik Jon Spoelstra, the youngest of the two children of Jon Spoelstra and Elisa Celino, on November 1, 1970, in Evanston, Illinois. His father is a Dutch-Irish-American while his mother is Filipino.
While growing up, Spoelstra spent some time in Buffalo, New York before moving to Portland, Oregon due to his father’s work. He attended Jesuit High School in Beaverton, Oregon, where he began playing basketball. Spoelstra had a considerable amount of talent that prompted a number of colleges to offer him a scholarship. He, however, chose to stay close to home and attend the University of Portland where he continued to excel as a point guard.
In his first year, Erik Spoelstra was named West Coast Conference freshman of the year. He remained his team’s starting point guard all through his time in college, averaging 9.2 points, 4.4 assists, and 2.4 rebounds per game. Spoelstra became a member of his school’s 1,000-point club before he graduated with a degree in communications in 1992.
After university, Spoelstra moved to Germany where he was hired as a player/assistant coach at Germany Westphalia-based professional basketball club TuS Herten. He spent two years with the team and also coached a local youth team before he developed back problems that made him contemplate surgery.
In 1995, he was offered a position as a video coordinator in the Miami Heat organization which gave him an opportunity to return to the United States. He held the position for two years before he became assistant coach/video coordinator. In 1999, Spoelstra was promoted to assistant coach/advance scout, a position he held for two more years before he was again promoted to assistant coach/director of scouting in 2001.
He was an assistant coach when the Heat won its first NBA championship in 2006 and because of the strong work ethic he displayed, he was made head coach in 2008 after coach Pat Riley decided to step down after the Heat had the league-worst record with 15 wins and 67 losses.
In his first year, Spoelstra led the team to the playoffs although they were defeated in the first round by the Atlanta Hawks. They returned the following year but were also defeated in the first round. In 2010, the team got a major boost by acquiring the services of LeBron James and Chris Bosh. They went on to reach four straight NBA Finals, winning two in 2012 and 2013 against the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs respectively.
Spoelstra has currently surpassed his predecessor as the head coach with most wins in Heat franchise history with 455 wins as of December 16, 2017.
Erik Spoelstra’s Family – Parents, Wife, Kids
Erik Spoelstra is the youngest of the two children of his parents. His father was a former NBA executive for teams like the Portland Trailblazers and the New Jersey Nets before going on to serve as president of Mandalay Sports Entertainment. Having published several books, the senior Spoelstra is also an author and a sports marketer.
Spoelstra is married to former Miami Heat dance squad member Nikki Sapp. The pair met during her time as a cheerleader for the team between 2005 and 2008 but only started dating after she left. They announced their engagement in September 2015 before going on to exchange vows in July 2016. In March 2018, the couple welcomed their first child, a son named Santiago Ray Spoelstra.
Sapp, who was born on March 22, 1987, in Florida where she was raised, attended Miami International University of Art & Design and graduated with a fashion design degree. She also attended Florida International University where she got an art history degree before going to serve as a director for the Guy Hepner Contemporary Art Gallery in West Hollywood.
Erik Spoelstra is the first ever NBA coach of Asian descent. He is also the first person of Asian descent to be a head coach in any of North America’s four major sports leagues. He later went on to become the first coach of Asian descent to win an NBA Championship.
After guiding his team to back to back NBA Championships in 2012 and 2013, Spoelstra became the eighth coach to lead his team to two straight titles and the third to lead his team to four straight NBA Finals.