MANILA, Philippines—Pat Riley always had a reputation as one of the greatest minds and personalities in the NBA that his persona, and looks, resembled a dapper boss from an HBO show.
So when he handed Miami Heat’s coaching reins to the somewhat inexperienced Erik Spoelstra in 2008, the current head coach of the franchise described it as being in a family meeting with the Corleones.
“It would probably be as you imagined, like a Godfather scene,” said Spoelstra in an interview with Inside the NBA’s Ernie Johnson. “He brought me in after the season, the lights were down and I sat on the other side of the desk of him and I barely made out his face but he could see me.”
“He brought me in on a Saturday, and it was after our season where we won 15 games (15-67) that year and he had joked about it as I sit across from him on the plane. We’d be drinking wine and I would work on video edits, and he’d always joke with me and told me ‘you’re gonna be coaching this team’ and that used to freak me out.”
“If he wanted to give me a glass of wine faster, it was to threaten me that he was going to me the head coach. That seemed really intimidating at the time.”
Although his father Jon was a former executive in the league, Spoelstra was never pegged to be one of the heads of an NBA franchise let alone replace