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Erik Spoelstra .

Erik Spoelstra overtakes Pat Riley to set Miami Heat franchise wins record

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When Pat Riley stepped down as the head coach of the Miami Heat in 2008, he hand-picked Erik Spoelstra to be his successor after he served as both a video coordinator and assistant coach with the team. 

That decision proved to be the correct one as Spoelstra is now in his 10th season with the franchise and has enjoyed huge success along the way. 

Fittingly, the 47-year-old has now broken a record previously held by Riley with the Heat's latest win. 

After a 90-85 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night, he became the franchise's all-time wins leader with 455.

He surpassed the previous record of 444 held by Riley and is now only one of two active head coaches in the NBA to post at least 450 wins with their current team, joining San Antonio's Gregg Popovich, who has 1,169 wins with the Spurs, per ESPN. 

After the game, Spoelstra saluted the Heat president, whom he referred to as his mentor, after Miami eventually managed to grind out a win over the Clippers in an ugly affair where they shot just 37.8 percent from the field. 

Miami Heat v Detroit Pistons

"I thought that it would be most fitting to go retro and have an old-school Miami Heat game in honor of coach Riley," Spoelstra said, according to ESPN.

"This is the type of game he probably enjoys the most -- you win shooting 37 percent. I think we scored too many points this game. But those are the old-school, tough, grind-it-out, find any way as a competitor to win the games. That's in honor of my mentor and my coach. He's still my coach."

Spoelstra's career record now stands at 455-296 in 10 seasons and he managed to guide the Heat to four straight NBA Finals from 2011-14, winning the title in 2012 and 2013 with the big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh at his disposal. 

Miami Heat vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

His counterpart on the night, Doc Rivers, also paid tribute to coach Spo and believes he's one of the best in the league. 

“The respect for Spo has always been there, to be honest,” Rivers said, per the Miami Herald. “Spo is so unassuming. He’s like the greatest coach that no one knows. I think that’s the way he probably wants it.

“I don’t know how he gets away with it, though. I mean, he’s had the three great players together. He looks like he’s on the GQ cover and nobody actually notices him. He gets away with murder as far as I’m concerned. He’s a terrific coach and one of the great ones.”

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game Seven

The championship-winning coach was often overlooked for praise because he had LeBron on his team but since his departure, he has proven himself to be an elite NBA coach and has still found ways to win and keep the Heat competitive. 

He finally deserves to be recognized and this milestone will go some way towards making sure that happens.

Topics:
NBA
LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers
Central Division
Eastern Conference
Hassan Whiteside
Miami Heat
Southeast Division
Dwyane Wade

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