MANILA, Philippines – Long before Erik Spoelstra could ever lay his hand on the Larry O’Brien championship trophy, he used to be the guy sitting on the chair researching videos and editing them for his mentor Pat Riley’s film sessions with the Miami Heat.
Even when he became the head coach of the reigning NBA champions, he is still the guy on the chair on the sidelines shouting instructions to his players and mapping plays during timeouts. He is the man behind the scenes, a speck on the shadow cast by his superstar trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. On Friday morning, Spoelstra played the role his superstars are so accustomed to – flash a smile in front of rolling cameras and under bright spotlights for a TV commercial.
Yes, it’s Spoelstra’s first appearance on TV not holding a playbook or making hand signals and giving out instructions.
The country’s telecommunication giant SMART – whose chairman Manny V. Pangilinan also owns the Talk n’ Text Tropang Texters in the Philippine Basketball Association and was reported to be in the running to buy the Sacramento Kings franchise in the NBA – gave Spoelstra his first ever TV commercial.
“It’s new. I’ve never done a commercial before,” said Spoelstra, who confessed he was nervous at first but grown confident as the camera rolled. “It’s kind of fun. I’m trying to follow what the director says.”
Spoelstra took his first acting try in front of the camera as a “good learning experience.”
“I used to sit on that chair directing people (on the court). I had a lot of fun,” Spoelstra said, comparing the role of a TV director to that of his coaching job.
Spoelstra, who traces his Filipino roots to San Pablo, Laguna, will have to get used to this role on top of his head coaching job, as the Heat are bound to get better with the addition of Ray Allen from fierce Eastern Conference rival Boston Celtics and another shooter Rashard Lewis.
With already one (championship) ring on his finger and possibly another coming in June next year, the 41-year-old good-looking bachelor could get more product endorsements and TV exposure as the face of this basketball-crazy nation with a population of 90 million.