Erik Spoelstra at 60? He’ll still be under his new Heat coaching extension, ‘very humbling’

MIAMI — To Erik Spoelstra, the NBA is about living in the moment. Earlier this week, when asked about being in the midst of a stretch of 13 of 18 at home, the Heat coach said his only concern was the ongoing four-game homestand.

Yet with Spoelstra’s eight-year contract extension that was confirmed Tuesday, one worth at least $120 million, the most lucrative coaching contract in NBA history, Spoelstra, 53, is now signed through his 61st birthday.

As a means of comparison, of the NBA’s 29 other coaches, only San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, 74; New York’s Tom Thibodeau, 65; Indiana’s Rick Carlisle, 64; and Charlotte’s Steve Clifford, 62, are working in their 60s.

As a matter of further perspective, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Mark Daigneault, Spoelstra’s coaching opponent Wednesday night at Kaseya Center, is 38.

As for further perspective, Heat president Pat Riley not only left coaching at 63, but before that took a 2 1/2-year hiatus from coaching.

“I still view myself as a young guy in this profession,” Spoelstra said before Wednesday night’s game. “When you start saying I’ll be 60, I was wondering who you were talking about. I haven’t thought that far ahead. I just want to take this responsibility to be a caretaker, like several others. That’s what makes the Miami Heat so unique.”

A party familiar with the contract said that assurances of a future front-office role or taking over as a successor to Riley as team president are not tacitly included in the contract, with the extension beginning next season and taking Spoelstra through the 2031-32 season.

Spoelstra said the length of the agreement was just another element of the lengths that Riley and team owner Micky Arison have gone to maintain continuity.

“It goes without saying, it’s unheard of in this business,” Spoelstra said of his tenure with the team. “I don’t ever want to take that for granted. So it’s very humbling to be able to have that kind of continued stability and then basically for the staff, as well, that we can wrap our minds around the foreseeable future.

“If you talk about stability, every franchise in pro sports throws those kinds of terms of stability and family and consistency and continuity, everybody throws that out there. But very few actually execute it. And that’s why I’m just incredibly grateful.”

Reaction to the extension was particularly meaningful to those Spoelstra coached to NBA championships.

“That’s my Coach!” Dwyane Wade posted on social media. “Happy and Proud is an understatement! His work ethic is unmatched!”

“Worth Every Single Cent of that contract!!!” LeBron James posted. “Congrats Spo!!”

Spoelstra took over as Heat coach from Riley on April 28, 2008, now second in NBA coaching tenure only to the Spurs’ Popovich. This is Spoelstra’s 16th season as Heat coach, his 29th as a member of the organization, having previously served as a video coordinator, scout and assistant coach.

“I grew up in the NBA business,” said Spoelstra, whose father, Jon, was a long-time NBA executive, “so I understand how unique that is and that’s why I feel a great responsibility to be a caretaker for this culture now and moving forward.

“It’s a unique responsibility that is deep in my blood at this point. Even my coaching staff, we’ve been together for so long. We’ve been in the trenches through great times, but we’ve also had some tough times, tough years. But that’s what’s made us grow even closer, where we can really trust each other and count on each other.”

Spoelstra went into Wednesday with a 725-506 coaching record during the regular season and 109-75 postseason record that includes 12 playoff appearances, nine division titles, six conference championships and guiding the franchise to NBA championships in 2012 and ’13.

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Since his ascension to head coach, the Heat have the third-best regular-season and fourth-best postseason winning percentages in the NBA.

In February 2022, Spoelstra was selected as one of the 15 Greatest Coaches in NBA history as part of the league’s 75th-anniversary celebration.

Spoelstra, who passed Riley on the Heat’s all-time coaching victory list with win number 455 on Dec. 16, 2017, has been honored as the NBA’s Eastern Conference Coach of the Month a franchise-record nine times.

Spolestra is just the sixth coach in the Heat’s 36 seasons, following in the lineage of Ron Rothstein, Kevin Loughery, Alvin Gentry, Riley and Stan Van Gundy.

Since Spoelstra took over in 2008, no coach has recorded more playoff victories than Spoelstra’s 109 and his 23 postseason series wins are tied with Golden State’s Steve Kerr for the most the past 15 seasons.

Additionally, Spoelstra has coached over 1,000 career regular-season games, becoming the third coach in NBA history to coach 1,000 or more games with only one franchise for his entire career, joining Popovich and Al Attles (Warriors).

Spoelstra served as an assistant coach to Kerr with Team USA at last summer’s World Championships in the Philippines and will be in the same role with USA Basketball at this coming summer’s Paris Olympics.

A Filipino American, Spoelstra is the first Asian American coach in the history of the four major U.S. sports leagues and the first Asian American coach to win an NBA title.

Spoelstra’s salary this season has been reported at $8.5 million. Popovich is earning a reported $16 million this season, with Monty Williams receiving a reported $13 million in this first season with the Detroit Pistons.