I remember in 2008 when Erik Spoelstra was named head coach of the Miami Heat, filling the big shoes of Pat Riley. He had been a professional basketball player overseas and with the team for 13 years, but many people thought Spoelstra was too young to be an NBA head coach at 38. In fact, he was the youngest coach in the NBA. However, Spoelstra has proven that age is a number and this year he has taken the Heat to the NBA Finals, balancing the chemistry of the Big Three.
I had the opportunity to meet Spoelstra and spend quite some time with him as we were doing the cover photo shoot for my former health and fitness magazine. He was charming and he also showed a lot of character. He knew pretty well how he wanted to look on the cover and posed for it. He wanted to look like himself, not too colorful or fancy. He exemplified the young executive, who tries to not stand out too much by wearing solid colors and straight lines.
And for being a coach, he wasn’t bossing people around. Once he knew what he was going to wear and checked the set, he felt comfortable and gave his charming smile. When we chatted about fitness, sports and diet. He mentioned that a lot of players come to the NBA, focus on lifting weights and being strong, but neglect the diet component. He admits that he has to keep an eye on certain players so they don’t overdo it on junk food. The Heat coach likes to keep in good shape and works out before dinner.
I’m pretty sure that the way he approaches sports, fitness and health hasn’t changed that much since I met him a year ago. He admitted to me that he feels anxious every time he leaves the court after a game.
“I struggle to eat after the games and wake up in the middle of the night thinking about something that I could have done differently to win a game or something that I messed up,” said Spoelstra.
I guess this anxiety and doing something about it has got him where he is today. Right now he is in position to win an NBA title – one of the biggest prizes in professional sports.