MIAMI: Erik Spoelstra would like Manny Pacquiao to come hang out with the Miami Heat, but don’t look for him to add the Filipino boxing champ to the coaching staff anytime soon.
“That won’t happen, but I’d love to have him come out and spend some time with the team,” Spoelstra said on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila).
Pacquiao announced recently he plans to become the player-coach of the newly created Kia Motors team when the next season of the Philippine Basketball Association begins.
“Even when I was a kid, even before I learned to box, basketball was my first love,” said Pacquiao.
Spoelstra, who is of Filipino descent, and Pacquiao are two of the most popular sports figures in the Philippines. They also share the common bond of a love of basketball.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” Spoelstra said of Pacquiao becoming a coach. “He’s a tremendous fan of basketball and the NBA.
“He plays pickup all the time. But I’m sure [boxing trainer]Freddie Roach doesn’t appreciate that.”
Spoelstra will travel to the Philippines during the off-season to conduct basketball clinics and he hopes to attend one of Pacquiao’s games.
“I’ll try to make it out and see if I can catch a game this summer,” said Spoelstra whose Heat were tied 1-1 with the San Antonio Spurs in the best-of-seven NBA championship finals heading into Tuesday’s game three.
Being a basketball coach is just the latest role for eight-time champion boxer Pacquiao, who has also tried his hand at politics, acting and preaching.
If Pacquiao pushes through with his basketball career, he would have to do so while training for an upcoming fight in November and serving his constituents as a congressman.
“He has an incredible way of managing all the different things on his plate. I couldn’t do that,” said Spoelstra, who is the first Filipino-American head coach in any of the major North American pro sports.