Erik Spoelstra is a two-time National Basketball Association Championship winner and coach. He did so with the Miami Heat, which he currently serves as head coach.
Spoelstra was born the youngest of Jon Spoelstra and Elisa Celino’s two children, Erik Jon Spoelstra, on November 1, 1970, in Evanston, Illinois. His father is Dutch-Irish-American, while his mother is Filipino.
As he grew up, Spoelstra spent some time in Buffalo, New York before moving to Portland, Oregon, because of his father’s work. He attended Jesuit High School in Beaverton, Oregon, where he began to play basketball. Spoelstra had considerable talent, which led a number of colleges to offer him a scholarship. However, he 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 rookie of the year. Throughout his college years, he remained his team’s starting point guard, with an average of 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 graduating with a degree in Communications in 1992.
After his studies, Spoelstra moved to Germany, where he was hired as player/assistant coach at the Westphalian professional basketball club TuS Herten. He spent two years with the team and also coached a local youth team before he developed back problems which led him to consider surgery.
In 1995 he was offered a position as video coordinator with the Miami Heat organization, which gave him the opportunity to return to the United States. He held this position for two years before becoming an assistant trainer/video coordinator. In 1999, Spoelstra was promoted to Assistant Coach/Advance Scout, a position he held for another two years before being promoted again in 2001 to Assistant Coach/Director of Scouting.
He was Assistant Coach when the Heat won its first NBA championship in 2006, and because of his strong work ethic, he was appointed head coach in 2008 after coach Pat Riley decided to step down after the Heat set the league record of 15 wins and 67 defeats.
In his first year, Spoelstra led the team to the playoffs, despite losing to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round. They returned the following year but were also beaten in the first round. In 2010 the team received a big boost by enlisting the services of LeBron James and Chris Bosh. They then reached four consecutive NBA finals, winning two each against Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs in 2012 and 2013.
Spoelstra currently outperforms his predecessor as the head coach with the most wins in the history of the Heat franchise, with 455 wins through December 16, 2017.
Erik Spoelstra’s Family – Parents, Wife, Kids
Erik Spoelstra is the youngest of his parents’ two children. His father was a former NBA manager for teams like the Portland Trailblazers and the New Jersey Nets before becoming president of Mandalay Sports Entertainment. Senior Spoelstra has published several books and is also a writer and sports marketer.
Spoelstra is married to former Miami Heat Dance Squad member Nikki Sapp. The couple met during their time as cheerleaders for the team between 2005 and 2008, but only started dating after they left. They announced their engagement in September 2015 before taking their 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 grew up, attended the Miami International University of Art & Design and graduated with a degree in fashion design. She also attended Florida International University, where she earned a degree in art history before becoming the director of the Guy Hepner Contemporary Art Gallery in West Hollywood.
Erik Spoelstra is the first NBA coach of Asian descent ever. He is also the first person of Asian descent to serve as head coach in one of the four major North American sports leagues. He later became the first coach of Asian descent to win an NBA championship.
After leading his team to the 2012 and 2013 NBA Championships, Spoelstra was the eighth coach to lead his team to two consecutive titles and the third to lead his team to four consecutive NBA finals.