Match up against Portland is a homecoming event for Spoelstra
By Max Mandel Posted in: erikspoelstra
When Erik Spoelstra led the Miami Heat to a 107-100 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night, he probably wasn't too busy thinking about all his great memories growing up around the Trail Blazers organization. Not only did Spoelstra grow up in Portland and play at Jesuit high school, but his father served as an executive for the Trail Blazers organization. When I caught up with Spoelstra at the Heat shoot around before the game, it became clear how much he enjoys returning to Portland and being around family and friends. In fact, with the timing of the Heat schedule, this became the second straight year he celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday at home.
"It's always special being able to spend time with family and friends," the Heat coach said about his return to Portland. "The last two years have been great. Last year, I was able to spend Thanksgiving with the family. We did a belated Thanksgiving dinner last night, which was great."
With his father working for the team, Spoelstra grew up around and developed into a huge Trail Blazers fan as a kid.
"I was Rip City all the way," Spoelstra said with a laugh. "I was a Blazers fan, and die-hard through all the years. Through the Jim Paxson and Darnell Valentine era, and then all the way to the Rick Adelman, Terry Porter, and Clyde Drexler era."
When asked to reveal his favorite Trail Blazer of all-time, Spoelstra didn't even need a second to think about it.
"Terry Porter was my favorite all-time Blazer. I wore #30 in high school in honor of Terry Porter. In many ways it feels like a different organization now. It's a different building. My memories of the Blazers were of the Coliseum. But you can see that Rip City is back with the crowd and the enthusiasm in the city."
Along with the resurgence of the Trail Blazers franchise, Spoelstra also noticed the tremendous play of his Portland Pilots, who made an appearance in the Top 25 for the first time in 50 years.
"It's awesome. I've reconnected with some former teammates because of what they have done," Spoelstra said of his alma mater. "I hadn't spoken to these guys in awhile, but we are all following and we are all watching now. I think that Coach Reveno has done a tremendous job building the program with the right structure, discipline, and patience. It's taken awhile to get to this point, but they're doing it the right way. There is a genuine enthusiasm for what they have done on The Bluff."