The Miami Heat‘s head coach Erik Spoelstra is one of the most universally respected leaders in the NBA, and so it’s easy to understand why Team USA Basketball is again looking to hire the 51-year-old veteran.
While rumored reports back in September linked Spoelstra as the preferred candidate to be the next head coach for USA Basketball, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski revealed his new role with the team on December 10.
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“USA Basketball is finalizing a decision to name Steve Kerr as the next national coach with an assistant coaching staff that will include Monty Williams, Erik Spoelstra and Mark Few, sources tell ESPN,” Wojnarowski tweeted. “A formal announcement is expected in the near future.”
This past summer, Spoelstra coached the Select Team in Las Vegas to help condition Team USA before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. This new job is likely a major stepping stone for him in the USA Basketball pipeline.
Kerr, along with Spoelstra, Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams, and Gonzaga coach Mark Few, will help the men’s national team prepare for the 2023 World Cup, which will take place in Japan, Indonesia, and the Phillippines. as well as the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Why Was Kerr Picked Over Spoelstra as Head Coach?
For those wondering why Kerr, 56, who’s the head coach of the Golden State Warriors, got the nod over Spoelstra to replace Gregg Popovich, he has a little bit more experience with USA Basketball, which is likely what tipped the decision in his favor.
As a coach, Kerr has worked with Team USA since 2018, when he was announced as the assistant to legend Popovich for the Tokyo Olympics, the latter of whom remains the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs. Together, Kerr and Popovich helped Team USA beat France to once again nab the Olympic gold medal this past summer.
As a player, Kerr won a gold medal with Team USA back in 1986, when the team was competing at the FIBA World Championship in Spain, per CBS Sports. With five championship rings as a player and three titles as a coach, it shouldn’t be too surprising that Kerr was chosen to take over.
Before the announcement was made, Kerr admitted he would love the opportunity to be the men’s national team’s head coach. “Of course I’d be interested. I mean, who wouldn’t be?” Kerr said back in August. “I’ll leave it at that. I have no idea how it will all transpire; there are a lot of great candidates out there. And if I were to be considered, that would be an honor.”
A Few Heat Players Could Join Spoelstra on Team USA
Heat All-Star Bam Adebayo, who was overlooked by Popovich from making the official team in 2019, made the official 2020 Tokyo Olympics roster, and as the Select Team coach, Spoelstra was able to train him in Las Vegas.
“I’m thrilled for Bam, for this experience,” Spoelstra said at the time. “He has been in the program. I think he was better for it from the last experience, even though that was only a week. He’s a much different and much-improved player from two summers ago.”
Working alongside Popovich and Kerr was also a huge draw for Spoelstra. “To have Hall of Fame, world-class coaching, and super-intense, high-level competition I think is the best thing for his player development. There couldn’t be any better road map for a summer, an offseason for Bam, where he is in his career, than to do this at this stage. And then to go to Tokyo and have an opportunity to compete for a gold, that’s a life experience.”
Another player that could be in the mix on the men’s national team is guard Tyler Herro, who spent time in Vegas under Spoelstra as part of the Select Team.