The Miami Heat's 100-85 win over the Toronto Raptors Sunday allowed the team to maintain a half-game lead over the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference standings, and it also earned head coach Erik Spoelstra and his staff a trip to Houston for the NBA All-Star Game later this month.
Spoelstra will join LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh on the Eastern Conference squad. Whereas James and Wade are making their ninth appearances in the annual midseason exhibition (and Bosh his eighth), Spoelstra has never been a part of an All-Star game as a head coach.
As a Heat assistant coach in 2005, he joined then-Heat coach Stan Van Gundy on the All-Star Game coaching staff. Spoelstra called the selection "a heck of an honor."
"It's awesome," James said after the Heat's game on Sunday. "It's a testament to our coaches' preparedness. As players we go out there and just try to execute their game plan. We're happy for them."
"We're happy to go, we're excited about it," Spoelstra said. "You don't spend any time thinking about it as it's happening, you're just trying to prepare your team and make sure you have the best record. Now that it happened, it's cool. We'll make the most of it. Our staff is thrilled about it. Our players gave us congratulations afterward. That's about as rare a thing as you'll ever get in this league."
Bosh could find his way into the Eastern Conference starting lineup thanks to Spoelstra. Boston PG Rajon Rondo was selected to the Eastern Conference starting lineup via fan voting, but will miss the game due to a torn knee ligament. Spoelstra could shift James to point guard, freeing up the small forward position for Bosh.
"I've only given this thought for the last nine minutes," Spoelstra said. "But I will tell you this unequivocally: My loyalties are first and foremost always with the Miami Heat."
IF Spoelstra does place Bosh into the starting lineup, it would make the Heat the first team with three All-Stars in the starting lineup since 1990, when Magic Johnson, James Worthy and AC Green of the LA Lakers started for the Western Conference All-Stars.
The All-Star Game will be held at the Toyota Center in Houston on Sunday, Feb. 17.