MIAMI – The calendar says it’s April 1st. It should be the stretch run of the NBA season, with the Miami Heat battling for one of the top four seeds in the Eastern conference playoff race.
Instead, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is at home, like all of us, trying to keep busy while the coronavirus pandemic puts a stop to much more than just the NBA season.
“I’m barbecuing every single night. I’ve never even been a barbecue guy. I’ve always been an order out, take-out, restaurant guy, and now I’m cooking the meals for the family,” Spoelstra jokes over the phone from his South Florida home. He’s spending the time with his wife, Nikki, and sons Santiago and Dante.
Spoelstra says he’s enjoying the family time, but he knows his team’s surprising 41-24 season is not guaranteed to resume, and it’s not something he’s thinking about much. He’s meeting with coaches and players via zoom most days, but admits they’re not 12-hour workdays focused on returning to basketball any time soon.
“I’m just focused on trying to connect our coaching staff and our players. I feel like that’s one of my main priorities as the head coach of this team right now. That’s something that I can control, and I think it’s something that’s been helpful to this group mentally and emotionally,” Spoelstra says.
In the meantime, he’ll keep enjoying some unexpected family time that he believes can help give everyone on his team have a new perspective in life.
But no matter how much work is put in with the use of technology, nothing compares to being on the court with his team, and that’s what Spoelstra misses most.
“The first five to ten minutes are guys catching up with each other and cracking jokes. It’s like they’re in the locker room before practice. Just messing around and having fun. I think we all need a little more of that right now,” Spoelstra says.