Erik Spoelstra begins his 12th season as head coach of the HEAT and his 25th as a member of the organization. Since being elevated to his current position on April 28, 2008, Spoelstra has rewarded the faith that HEAT President Pat Riley showed in him by garnering a 523-363 regular season record, a 71-47 postseason mark, eight postseason appearances, six division titles, four conference championships and guiding the franchise to a pair of NBA championships. Since his ascension to head coach, Miami has the fifth-highest regular season winning percentage in the NBA (tops in the Eastern Conference) and has recorded the fourth-best postseason winning percentage.
In 11 seasons at the helm, Spoelstra has already established his place in the HEAT record book as the winningest coach in franchise history. He holds the franchise postseason records for victories (71), winning percentage (.602), series won (15) and games coached (118). In regular season play he ranks first in victories (523), games coached (886) and winning percentage (.590). Spoelstra, who passed Riley on Miami’s all-time victory list with win number 455 on Dec. 16, 2017, has also been honored as the NBA’s Eastern Conference Coach of the Month a franchise-record eight times.
Since replacing Riley on the HEAT bench 11 years ago, Spoelstra has seen the expectations for his team change dramatically from the time he was appointed head coach until now. When he inherited the head coaching reins in 2008 he was given the task of improving a young team that had been ravaged by injuries the previous season and had won just 15 games. Two years later, after the summer of 2010 in which Miami re-signed Dwyane Wade and acquired All-Stars LeBron James and Chris Bosh, he found himself coaching a highly-talented, veteran group that was the most scrutinized team in the NBA. Throughout his tenure he has remained a steadying influence for his team and its paid huge dividends in return. Spoelstra has proven up to the challenge as he has guided them to a pair of NBA Championships, four-straight Eastern Conference Championships and four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals. When the HEAT defeated Indiana in the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals they became the just the third franchise in NBA history to make four consecutive NBA Finals appearances, joining the Celtics and Lakers. It also made them at the time just one of 10 franchises in the four major North American sports leagues to make four consecutive trips to the league championship. Individually, Spoelstra became just the fourth head coach in NBA history to lead his team to four consecutive Finals appearances joining Red Auerbach, K.C. Jones and Pat Riley.
Spoelstra, who is currently in ninth place on the NBA’s all-time postseason winning percentage list (minimum 50 games coached) and second among active head coaches, joined a very elite fraternity when he led the HEAT to a seven-game series win over the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals. Upon capturing the 2013 NBA Championship he became just the 13th head coach in NBA history to have won multiple championships and only the eighth to win a championship in consecutive seasons. Spoelstra enters the 2019-20 season ranked 15th on the NBA’s all-time postseason victories list, fourth among active coaches. In regular season play, he is currently tied for 30th on the NBA’s all-time victories list (sixth among active coaches) and 11th all-time (second among active coaches) in regular season win percentage (minimum 500 games coached).
Since he took over the HEAT, only Golden State’s Steve Kerr has won more playoff games or playoff series than Spoelstra. Under Spoelstra, the HEAT have advanced to the playoffs in eight of his 11 seasons and have won 15 of 21 postseason series (.714 winning percentage), including a franchise-record 11 consecutive series from 2012-14. Spoelstra’s teams have a 15-6 (.714) record when having an opponent on the brink of elimination, including a perfect 11-0 mark at home, and a 9-6 (.600) mark when they are on the brink of elimination. One of the keys to that success has been Miami’s dominance at the AmericanAirlines Arena under Spoelstra. In his 11 seasons, Spoelstra’s regular season record at the AmericanAirlines Arena is a sterling 295-148 (.666) and his postseason record at home is an even better 46-15 (.754). The HEAT have also proven to be able to win away from home, evidenced by five straight seasons from 2009-14 that Miami posted a winning record on the road, a first in franchise history. Additionally, Miami has won at least one postseason road game in each of its past 19 series, the second-best mark in NBA history.
In a career highlighted by multiple championships, the 2016-17 campaign might have been Spoelstra’s greatest coaching job to date. Despite leading the league in games missed due to injury, Spoelstra guided the HEAT to the greatest in-season turnaround in NBA history and as a result shared the National Basketball Coaches Association inaugural Michael H. Goldberg Coach of the Year Award with Mike D’Antoni. After compiling an 11-30 (.268) record at the halfway point of the season, the HEAT completely reversed course going 30-11(.732) over the final 41 games to finish the season at .500. Previously, no team in NBA history that was at least 19 games under .500, at any point during the season, had ever managed to end the season at .500. Miami finished with the most wins (41) in league history of any team that had been at least 19 games under .500 at any point in a season. The HEAT’s second half turnaround was highlighted by a 13-game winning streak from Jan. 17-Feb. 10, the franchise’s third-longest winning streak and the longest in NBA history by any team that was at least 19 games under .500.
Keyed by a strong defensive effort, the 2015-16 season was highlighted by the fifth division title in the Spoelstra era and a trip to the Eastern Conference Semifinals where the HEAT came within a game of advancing back to the Eastern Conference Finals. Miami led the NBA in blocked shots during the campaign and ranked fifth in scoring defense and ninth in field goal percentage defense.
The 2013-14 season saw the HEAT capture their fourth straight Eastern Conference Championship, fourth straight Southeast Division title and their sixth straight postseason appearance, tying the franchise record for consecutive postseason berths. Spoelstra added to his individual accolades capturing Coach of the Month honors for the month of February after guiding Miami to a 9-1 record. On Feb. 23, he notched his 300th career victory against Chicago in just his 448th game, reaching that milestone in fewer games than any coach in franchise history.
After guiding Miami to its second NBA crown in 2012, Spoelstra and his team knew they would get everyone’s best shot on a daily basis during the 2012-13 season and what the HEAT accomplished under Spoelstra was one of the greatest seasons in NBA history. It was a season filled with highlights from participating in a preseason tour in China to ending with a championship celebration on the floor of the AmericanAirlines Arena on June 20, 2013.
Spoelstra guided the HEAT to a franchise-record 66-win regular season which included a 27-game winning streak from Feb. 3-Mar. 25, the second longest single-season streak in NBA history. In large part due to the winning streak, the HEAT finished the second half of the 2012-13 season with a 38-3 record and lost just one game each in the months of February, March and April. The 17-1 record in March set a franchise record for victories in any month. As a result of the streak, Spoelstra was named the NBA Eastern Conference Coach of the Month in both February and March becoming the first HEAT coach to receive the honors in consecutive months. The record-setting season also helped Spoelstra earn the honor of coaching the Eastern Conference at the 2013 NBA All-Star Game, a first in his career. The final victory in the 27-game win streak, at Orlando on Mar. 25, marked the 250th regular season victory in Spoelstra’s career.
The 2012 championship culminated a compressed 2011-12 season in which Miami went 46-20 and captured its second consecutive Southeast Division title. The regular season was highlighted by a nine-game win streak (Feb. 10-Mar. 1) with each victory a double-digit win. During that streak the HEAT became the first team to win road games on three consecutive nights (Feb. 12-14) since December of 1979 and the first to win each of those contests by double-digits since the 1970-71 season.
Miami’s success during the 2011-12 campaign was driven by its defense. The HEAT once again ranked among the top defensive teams in the NBA, finishing third in steals per game, fourth in scoring defense, fourth in scoring margin and fifth in field goal percentage defense, the third straight year Miami ranked in the top five in field goal percentage defense. The HEAT also proved dominant at home, posting a 28-5 record, which included a 17-game home winning streak, the second longest in franchise history. The 28 home victories tied for the most in the league and the .848 home winning percentage is the third best single-season mark in franchise history.
Spoelstra led Miami to a 58-24 regular season record, a Southeast Division title and an Eastern Conference championship in 2010-11. The 58 wins mark the fourth best total in franchise history and Miami’s 28 road wins tied for the most in the NBA in 2010-11 and rank third in HEAT history. Spoelstra earned NBA Eastern Conference Coach of the Month honors in December after guiding the HEAT to a 15-1 record, including a perfect 10-0 mark on the road. The 10 road victories in December set a franchise record for any month and the HEAT established an NBA record for most consecutive road wins in a calendar month. Defense was once again the stalwart of the HEAT’s success as Miami led the NBA in point differential, finished second in defensive field goal percentage and sixth in scoring defense.
After an impressive rookie campaign, Spoelstra guided Miami to a 47-35 record in 2009-10. Under his leadership the HEAT closed the season by winning 18 of its final 22 games, including a 12-3 record in March which earned him NBA Eastern Conference Coach of the Month honors. The 2009-10 season was one of its best defensive seasons for Miami as the HEAT allowed the fewest field goals in the NBA and finished second in both points allowed and defensive field goal percentage.
During his rookie season, Spoelstra led Miami to its greatest single-season improvement. He inherited a 15-win team and directed it to a 28-win improvement, marking the greatest improvement by a rookie head coach in NBA history, bettering the previous record of a 20-win improvement by Chicago’s 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 season, the most by a head coach in his first year 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, joining the 1968-69 San Diego Rockets.
Before taking over the reigns as the sixth head coach in HEAT history, Spoelstra had served Miami in a number of roles in his first 13 years. He was originally hired as video coordinator and over the years was promoted to assistant coach/video coordinator, assistant coach/advance scout and assistant coach/director of scouting before ascending to head coach. He made a name for himself around the league with his game preparation and superb attention to detail. In his seven seasons as the HEAT’s assistant coach/director of scouting, he had the primary role of developing game plans for 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, 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 Miami’s young players in areas of fundamentals, skill development and shooting. This consistent emphasis of fundamentals contributed to the HEAT setting a franchise-record in 2008-09 for fewest turnovers in a season, committing 96 fewer turnovers than the previous franchise record, and then responding the following season with the second fewest turnovers in a 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 iPads for his players.
In 1992, he graduated from the University of Portland with a degree in communications. While attending Portland, Spoelstra was the starting point guard for four years and was named the West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year in 1989. Upon graduating he 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, Spoelstra takes pride in encouraging and educating children on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of healthy living, as well as motivating and inspiring their families to live healthier lives through a variety of events and activities. Additionally, he created “Spo’s Shooters”, in 2008 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.
In July 2009, Spoelstra embarked on what would be the first of four trips back to his native Philippines. In each of these trips, he has hosted basketball and coaches clinics, promoted the importance of education, healthy living and wellness, while being able to reach close to 10,000 underprivileged youth through these efforts. In 2011, the nine-day program in Manila was the largest NBA FIT event ever hosted in Southeast Asia under the NBA Cares umbrella. During the summer of 2012, Spoelstra expanded this program to include the country of Singapore. Spoelstra’s commitment to help grow the game of basketball globally also includes serving as head coach for Team World in the NBA Africa Game 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa as part of Basketball Without Borders Africa in August 2017.
Raised in Portland, OR, Spoelstra, who was inducted into the Jesuit High School Athletic Hall of Fame in September 2009, is the first Asian/Filipino-American head coach in any of the major North American sports leagues.
Spoelstra is not the only member of his family to have a successful career in professional sports. His father, Jon Spoelstra, was a long-time NBA executive who guided the Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets, Buffalo Braves and New Jersey Nets and his grandfather, Watson, was a Detroit Tigers beat writer for many years. Spoelstra and his wife, Nikki, who were married in the summer of 2016, reside in Coral Gables, with their son Santiago.
Erik Spoelstra Head Coaching Record
|2008-09||Miami HEAT||43-39 (.524)||3rd/Southeast||3-4 (.429)|
|2009-10||Miami HEAT||47-35 (.573)||3rd/Southeast||1-4 (.200)|
|2010-11||Miami HEAT||58-24 (.707)||1st/Southeast||14-7 (.667)|
|2011-12||Miami HEAT||46-20 (.697)||1st/Southeast||16-7 (.696)|
|2012-13||Miami HEAT||66-16 (.805)||1st/Southeast||16-7 (.696)|
|2013-14||Miami HEAT||54-28 (.659)||1st/Southeast||13-7 (.650)|
|2014-15||Miami HEAT||37-45 (.451)||3rd/Southeast|
|2015-16||Miami HEAT||48-34 (.585)||1st/Southeast||7-7 (.500)|
|2016-17||Miami HEAT||41-41 (.500)||3rd/Southeast|
|2017-18||Miami HEAT||44-38 (.537)||1st/Southeast||1-4 (.200)|
|2018-19||Miami HEAT||39-43 (.537)||Tied-2nd/Southeast||0-0|
|TOTALS (11 Seasons)||523-363 (.590)||71-47 (.602)|
Erik Spoelstra Coach of the Month Honors
|March 2010||Miami HEAT||12-3 (.800)|
|December 2010||Miami HEAT||15-1 (.938)|
|February 2012||Miami HEAT||11-2 (.846)|
|February 2013||Miami HEAT||12-1 (.923)|
|March 2013||Miami HEAT||17-1 (.944)|
|February 2014||Miami HEAT||9-1 (.990)|
|February 2017||Miami HEAT||8-3 (.727)|
|January 2018||Miami HEAT||10-5 (.667)|
Playoff Victories Since 2008-09
|Golden State Warriors||72|
|San Antonio Spurs||66|
Most Playoff Series Won Since 2008-09
|Golden State Warriors||16|
|San Antonio Spurs||13|
Highest Postseason Winning Percentages Since 2008-09
|Golden State Warriors||.706||72||30|
|Los Angeles Lakers||.569||41||31|
Highest Postseason Series Winning Percentages Since 2008-09
|Golden State Warriors||.842||16||3|
|Los Angeles Lakers||.769||10||3|
Highest Regular Season Winning Percentages Since 2008-09
|San Antonio Spurs||.703||565||239|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||.608||489||315|
|Golden State Warriors||.593||477||327|