While Miami Heat‘s head coach has stressed the importance of finally getting some rest during this offseason, Erik Spoelstra has accepted an invitation to join the USA Basketball team’s coaching staff, the Associated Press reported on June 23.
Next month, Spoelstra, 50, will head to Las Vegas to work alongside USA Basketball head coach Gregg Popovich with the Select team, which scrimmages against the Olympians who will represent America in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics this summer.
“I really just want to be a part of the program,” Spoelstra said. “I’m always pushing myself to get better in the offseasons; I go visit people and all that stuff. This is going to be a basketball immersion. I mean, the dinners, the team meetings … for where I am right now in my career, I think this is the perfect thing for a summer of development.”
This summer will be Spoelsta’s first time ever working with USA Basketball. The first on-court portion of training camp starts on July 6. Spoelstra will have one of his own players joining him in Las Vegas, All-Star Bam Adebayo.
Spoelstra Recently Finished His 13th Season as Miami’s Head Coach
Spoelstra is the second-longest tenured coach in the NBA, just behind Popovich, the latter of whom has been the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs since 1996. Popovich and Spoelstra coached against one another during the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals.
While the two seasoned coaches are always playing on opposite ends of the court, they share a great respect for one another.
“I really admire what he’s done, coming up through the ranks and how he’s matriculated through the different levels in the league and ended up in a position he’s in,” Popovich said of Spoelstra in April, the Associated Press reported. “He’s worked so hard, done such a great job, and it’s just kind of thrilling to see somebody achieve that.”
Spoelstra thanked Popovich, along with team managing director Jerry Colangelo and men’s national team director Sean Ford, for extending the invitation his way. “I’m really grateful to Pop, Jerry, and Sean for this opportunity,” Spoelstra told the Associated Press.
Spoelstra Remains One of the Most Respected Coaches in the NBA
While the Miami Heat struggled to find their rhythm this year before suffering an embarrassing sweep by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs, Spoelstra remains one of the most talented and well-respected coaches in the entire NBA.
In mid-June, rumors started swirling that the Portland Trail Blazers were looking to poach Spoelstra from Miami, but those reports were quickly shot down. Despite a less than stellar season, Spoelstra loves working with Heat president Pat Riley, who handpicked him to take over as head coach in 2008.
Before the 2020-2021 season started, NBA.com’s GM survey voted Spoelstra as the best head coach in the NBA, “the best manager/motivator of people” and “coach that makes the best in-game adjustments.