Miami Heat Coach Roots For Pacquiao’s Win Tonight

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (JGL) – Filipino American Erik Spoelstra, the NBA coach, who wanted to be called “Manny Pacquiao” of coaches, is going to be watching the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout, according to Tim Donovan, Vice President, Sports Media Relations of Miami Heat.

In an email to this reporter, Donovan said, “Yes, he (Erik Spoelstra) will be watching” the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout.

“Where? I don’t know,” Donovan added, when asked if Spoelstra is going to watch the fight in person or on cable TV.

When asked whom Spoelstra is rooting for, Donovan, said, “I do know he’s rooting for Manny.”

When pressed if Spoelstra has any prediction on the fight, Donovan said, “I don’t know.”

Spoelstra will have the opportunity to watch the fight now that the Miami Heat is out of the playoffs for the first time this season since 2008, when Spoelstra started as Heat’s head coach. Miami (36-45) ended the season at Philadelphia (18-63) last April 15th. The Heat are the first team to make the Finals one year and miss the playoffs the next since the Los Angeles Lakers, who lost the championship series in 2004 and went 34-48 the following season.

It was on Jan. 27, 2015 during the NBA regular season when both Pacquiao and Mayweather were watching the Heat collide with Milwaukee Bucks when the two boxers met at the Miami Heat court sidelines that resulted in the agreement of the fight between the two pound-for-pound champions on today, May 2.

In fact, Mayweather, during the intermission of the Miami Heat game, met with Pacquiao in the middle of the Heat home court, where they were cheered by basketball fans watching the Miami-Bucks game, which ended up with the Heat, losing to Bucks, 109-102.

Later, it was reported that Mayweather visited Pacquiao in his Miami hotel room to formalize the deal believed to be the richest fight in history.

Pacquiao, 36, had already been in Miami as a judge for the Miss Universe competition and was expected to leave earlier but had his flight canceled due to the winter storm that affected travel throughout the eastern United States. Mayweather is a frequent attendee of Heat games, according to Rappler.

When this reporter interviewed Spoelstra several times at the Chicago Bulls home court, he had nothing but praises and had openly rooted for Pacquiao. “My only problem was that I cannot watch the Pacquiao bout because I’m busy during the playoffs,” Spoelstra told the Journal GlobaLinks.

“I’M MANNY PACQUIAO”

When this reporter’s younger brother, Ray G. Lariosa, who worked at a five-star hotel in Chicago several years ago, met Spoelstra at the hotel, Spoelstra introduced himself as “Manny Pacquiao” when the NBA coach figured that my brother is a Filipino American, causing my surprised brother to laugh very loud.

Spoelstra’s loyalty as a Pacquiao fan was tested when Spoelstra learned that Pacquiao was not a Miami Heat fan but a Boston Celtics fan.

Fight promoter Bob Arum delayed the start of the Pacquiao-Bradley bout at the MGM Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 9, 2012 as Pacquiao watched his Celtics team lose to Spoelstra’s Miami Heat in Game 6 in Boston’s home court. Interestingly, Pacquiao’s Celtics team’s loss might have impacted also on Pacquiao when Pacquiao lost to a  controversial split decision to then unbeaten Timothy Bradley.

Pacquiao, however, avenged his loss to Bradley when Pacquiao beat Bradley in a return bout in a unanimous decision on April 12, 2014 also at MGM Arena.

Despite Pacquiao’s known loyalty to Celtics, Spoelstra is still a huge fan of Pacquiao.

When Spoelstra learned that Pacquiao was forming a basketball franchise, Kia, in the Philippines, Spoelstra invited Pacquiao to hang out with the Heat “to spend some time with his team” but not as a member of the “coaching staff.”

Pacquiao is not only a basketball fan. Pacquiao is also a player-coach of his own Kia basketball team that competed for the first time this year with the professional teams in the Philippine Basketball Association, Philippine’s version of the NBA, with a dismal 1-10 win-loss record.

His critics say his attention to basketball and other concerns, like his being politician as a re-elected congressman of his wife’s native province of Sarangani in the Philippines, a singer, a product endorser, his personal appearances and other interests, have been the factors that are drawing him away from his main profession of boxing that is bringing him millions of dollars and glory for his country.

CAN PACQUIAO DENT MAYWEATHER’S RECORD?
But Pacquiao’s record of 57-wins-5 (38 by KO’s) losses-and 2 draws that included his masterful beating of boxing champions Brandon Rios and Chris Algieri recently prompted Mayweather to consider Manny for the May 2 fight that boxing fans have been clamoring to see during the last five years. There was an initial agreement with Mayweather for Pacquiao to get on with the fight five years ago but the Mayweather camp charged Pacquiao with taking PEDs (performance enhancing drugs), a charge that ended up in court. Mayweather, 38, sports an unblemished 47-0 record.

Roger Mayweather, Floyd’s uncle, was quoted in radio reports as saying of Manny,  “If he fights my nephew, he’ll fight him at 147 and he’ll take a drug test. After he takes that drug test and we find out that he’s clean, he’ll get his ass knocked out, period! He can’t do shit with my nephew, period. So that’s what will happen and that’s why the fight never happened, because he never decided to take the test.”

Pacquiao readily agreed to take the drug test, clearing the way for the Fight of the Century, after Floyd Mayweather took the “A-Side,” by dictating the terms of the agreement. Under the agreement, it was reported that if Pacquiao wins on Saturday, Pacquiao would take the “A-Side” and dictate the terms of the rematch, including a 60-40 purse split for Pacquiao and the hosting of the rematch in the Philippines.

Spoelstra is the only son and younger of two children of Jon Spoelstra and Elisa Celino. Jon is Dutch-Irish-American and a former NBA executive of the Buffalo Braves, Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets and New Jersey Nets. His mother, Elisa Celino, is a native of San Pablo, Laguna, Philippines. He is also the grandson of Watson Spoelstra, a long-time sportswriter for The Detroit News. Spoelstra is the only Filipino American and Asian American NBA coach. At 44, Erik is still a bachelor.

 

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