Written by: Dave Hyde
It sounds cute, like flipping through an old yearbook, how Erik Spoelstra walked coaches’ dogs in his role as video coordinator, worried over penmanship before a promotion to advance scout and didn’t own a single suit when named an assistant coach.
Pat Riley, in fact, reached into his legendary closet and gave his new assistant three suits back in 2001 to dress for games. Problem was, Riley was taller, and wore his suits longer to begin with.
“I looked like a character out of the movie ‘Big,’ or the singer in Talking Heads, coming out for my first few games as an assistant coach,’’ Spoelstra said. “Finally, friends said, ‘It’s great you have three suits from the legendary Pat Riley, but you’re better off having him sign them and put them in a frame.’ ‘’
There were more lessons to come. Like packing clothes.
“I’d stuff my suits in a duffel bag,’’ he said. “[Riley] noticed one day when I pulled out this crumpled shirt that I wore the previous road game. I was double-wearing. It was so wrinkled. He said, ‘Seriously, that’s what you’re wearing tonight?’ ’’
Nothing has changed all these years later. Not really. Except somewhere along the way, Spoelstra became the Heat Lifer the team tried to market players as being. He grew up and grew great as he did.