MANILA, Philippines - Coach Erik Spoelstra has passed team president Pat Riley for the most regular season wins in Miami Heat history after a 90-85 home win over the Los Angeles Clippers, Saturday, December 16 (Sunday Manila time).
Thanks to the hot hand of Josh Richardson, who scored 28 points on 6-of-8 shooting from downtown, the Heat were able to squeak past the struggling Clippers and give Spoelstra his franchise-best 455th win as head coach.
In an interview with the Sun Sentinel, Spoelstra lightheartedly expressed his thoughts on passing his mentor in total wins.
"I thought that it would be most fitting to go retro and have an old-school Miami Heat game in honor of Coach Riley," Spoelstra joked. Highlighting the days of old when the Heat was a regular playoff filler team, he added: "This is the type of game he probably enjoys the most: You win shooting 37 percent. I think we scored too many points this game.
"But those are the old-school, tough, grind-it-out, find-any-way-as-a-competitor [wins]. That's in honor of my mentor and my coach. He's still my coach."
Spoelstra, the only son of Jon Spoelstra from Indiana and Elisa Celino from San Pablo, Laguna, was a former assistant coach of the Heat from 1997-2008 and won his first championship along with the franchise in 2006. He would gain international attention as the head coach after Pat Riley put together the superteam of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010. Despite losing in the 2011 Finals to the Dallas Mavericks, Spoelstra and the Heat bounced back in the next two seasons, winning back-to-back championships before losing in the Finals once again in 2014 to the San Antonio Spurs. In the 2014 off-season, James left Miami to return home to Cleveland, hereby disbanding the Heat Big Three. The Heat have been hovering in the middle of the pack ever since.
Riley, meanwhile, was the head coach of the Heat from 1995-2008, compiling a record of 454 wins and 395 losses. He had coaching stops in Los Angeles with the 4-time champion Showtime Lakers and New York before retiring in South Beach. He is still running the Heat behind the scenes as the team president.
Along with 455 wins, Spoelstra has accrued 296 losses in 749 games over 9 seasons. – Rappler.com