Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The NBA’s global reach is hitting new levels, but the country that ranks third in following the league through social media is near and dear to the heart of Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra.
According to the NBA, the Philippines are ranked third following the league on Twitter and Facebook. For Heat head coach, he’s proud of his Filipino heritage.
“They root for us,” Spoelstra asked jokingly. “When we’re over their during the summer they are. It’s great to see.”
Spoelstra said one thing the rest of the world needs to know about the Philippines is that “they are rabid basketball fanatics, and it’s been that way for a while.”
“It’s great to see,” Spoelstra said. “I had my family over here last night (Sunday) from the Philippines.”
Spoelstra also knows that Tuesday’s Game 4 is going to be a game in which the Thunder, “bring it and hopefully we bring it too.” Spoelstra also said people are making more out of the concept of the desperate team than they probably should.
“Some of the games we lost, we brought it and we got beat,” Spoelstra said. “You have to play hard. You have to be on edge. You have to be the desperate team. At the same time you gotta play well.”
For Spoelstra, he’s grown accustomed to being in at the center of attention. He’s coached the Heat for four years, has never had a losing record, made four playoff appearances, and is on his second trip to the NBA Finals this year.
Spoelstra came up through the ranks of the Heat and eventually became Heat president Pat Riley’s right-hand man. Just don’t call him a clone of Riley.
“The game part of it, I think Spo does his own thing there,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “But definitely, the mental part of it, just listening to how he talks and prepares a team, the Riley fingerprints are all over that part. I mean, if you play for Riley or work around Riley, he’s going to be a part of you for the rest of your life. That’s just how it is.”
His team, even the greatest player in the game, has embraced Spoelstra as their leader.
“Spo has been great,” said LeBron James. “I mean, he’s been challenged the last two years by a lot of people, but I think he’s been awesome. Two straight finals appearances, and he’s put us in position to win each and every game. We understand what we like, our dislikes, everything of that nature, but he’s been great. He’s going to continue to grow, and I hope I can continue to grow around him.”
LeBron said that Spoelstra’s coaching and approach to the game has evolved as he has gotten a better feel for his players.
“He’s been more open this year, allowing some players to voice their opinion on certain situations, at practice or in a game, no matter what the magnitude of the game is,” James said. “We trust him and he trusts us. At the end of the day, he has the last call because he is the head coach, but as a player you love that fact when a coach wants to hear or wants to feel what you may see out on the floor during the game or during the film session. He’s been awesome.”
Spoelstra has withstood a barrage that almost no other coach has ever faced. He’s brought his Heat team to within two wins of a NBA championship for the second year in a row. But he knows the legacy with him can’t start until the Heat win those final two games.