Coach Spo becomes 1st Fil-Am to coach All-Star game
HOUSTON, Texas – For the very first time, a Filipino-American will coach in an NBA All-Star game.
That will happen on Sunday evening in Houston, Texas, when Erik Spoelstra, as usual, will man the sidelines.
But this time, it’s not for the Heat but for the Eastern All Stars.
By virtue of being the No. 1 team in the east as of the All Star cut-off date, “Coach Spo” got the coveted spot.
He is aware of the honor as being the first Pinoy, the first Asian to be in that position.
“There's no doubt about it, I'm proud to be Filipino, and I'm proud to represent the Asian community. Hopefully, what it does is it changes people's perspectives that anybody given the right opportunity it doesn't matter, race, creed, or color, ethnicity anything, it's more about your competency and hopefully people start to view that differently and in the future because I know it has changed in the last 15 to 20 years,” said Spoelstra.
Spoelstra joked about limiting the minutes of his players and using his eastern opponents on the floor extensively, but in the end he admits it's all about having fun and it's for the fans.
“I'll try not to mess it up this weekend… Maybe I can play some of our competitors players this weekend. Maybe I can play a bunch of minutes, and get them tired before we play them,” joked the Miami Heat coach.
“No, but it will be fun, and everybody has the right mindset. I still remember as an assistant to coach Van Gundy when we were able to coach the All-Star game, it’s a fun weekend. The players are competitive but they're also taking it the right way. It's for the fans and we're honored to be here as an organization.”
Since starting point guard Rajon Rondo was injured, it was a mystery as to who Spoelstra would pick from the East reserves to start in his place.
The logical choice was to go with Kyrie Irving, a point guard, but the loyalty choice was to put Chris Bosh to have three Heat players in the starting five, a feat that has not happened since 1990, when Magic Johnson started with James Worthy and AC Green.
Coach Spo went with loyalty.
“I told him, I told Chris and his wife that night, we had a Super Bowl party that night. My allegiance and my loyalty are with the Heat and with Chris. And to be fair, he was one of the leading vote-getters anyways,” he said.
On Sunday morning, the All-Star Saturday events like the Shooting Stars and Skills Challenge will air on ABS-CBN Channel 2, and the 3-point Shootout and Slam Dunk Competition will be on Studio 23.
The main event, the 62nd NBA All-Star Game, will air live on Studio 23 on Monday morning.