FILE – head coach Erik Spoelstra (L) and President Pat Riley (R) of the Miami Heat speak during a press conference after a welcome party for new teammates LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida on July 9, 2010. Doug Benc / Getty Images / AFP
MANILA, Philippines – Pat Riley has always had a reputation for being one of the greatest minds and personalities in the NBA that his personality and appearance resembled a preppy boss from an HBO show.
When he handed over the Miami Heat trainer to the somewhat inexperienced Erik Spoelstra in 2008, the current head coach of the franchise described it as a family reunion with the Corleones.
"It would probably be like a godfather scene as you imagined it," said Spoelstra in an interview with Inside the NBA's Ernie Johnson. "He brought me in after the season, the lights were out and I sat on the other side of his desk and I barely recognized his face, but he could see me."
“He brought me in on a Saturday and after our season we won 15 games (15-67) this year and he joked about it when I was sitting opposite him on the plane. We would drink wine and I would work on video editing, and he always joked with me and said, "You will train this team," and that freaked me out earlier. "
“If he wanted to give me a glass of wine faster, he threatened that he would go to me, the head coach. It really seemed intimidating at the time. "
Although his father Jon was a former manager in the league, Spoelstra was never classified as one of the heads of an NBA franchise, much less as a replacement for Riley, who had won five titles with the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers and The Heat.
Spoelstra started as video coordinator for Heat in 1995 and became assistant coach in 1997 until he replaced Riley in 2008, who focused on his role as team president.
Although Spoelstra had spent almost half of his life with the franchise, he said he never expected to be entrusted with the team and Riley's decision to promote him came from the left field.
"It will be like being in a bird's nest upstairs and I will only knock you off a branch and you will find out how to fly, but you have enough experience. They worked for great people and gained a lot of experience in the playoffs, ”said Spoelstra. Riley only gave him two days to prepare to officially become Heat's head coach.
Spoelstra, who was introduced to the media on Monday after his meeting, eventually became one of the smartest brains in the league when he led the Heat in 2012 and 2013 to four consecutive titles in consecutive finals.
“He told me to take a few days to bring you S, H, I, T together, and Monday is the press conference. All right, thanks, see you then. "
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