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Erik Spoelstra profile reveals he was on the court when Hank Gathers passed away

Erik Spoelstra

AP Photo


Everyone that follows basketball knows who Erik Spoelstra is.

The head coach of the Miami Heat. The man that called the plays when the Big Three invaded Miami.

You may not know where he came from, however. I didn’t, not until I read this story from Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated. He’s a fascinating guy, but here’s the part that shocked me: Spo was on the court when Hank Gathers, star of the 1990 LMU basketball team, died:

Spoelstra recalls in detail two events from his playing career, both at Portland. The first came in the 1990 West Coast Conference tournament, when he rushed back on defense against Loyola Marymount, only to see Hank Gathers soar for an alley-oop. Gathers collapsed moments later a few feet away and died that night. The second involves a less heralded power forward named Matt Houle. Spoelstra was easily winning a two-mile race against his teammates when he noticed Houle gaining on him. Spoelstra grew anxious, broke into a sprint and threw up after crossing the finish line first. He dry-heaved for the next 20 minutes.

Spoelstra was the point guard at Portland then. You can see him, No. 30 in purple, on the video here, although I will advise you not to click that link -- a clip from “The Guru of Go”, a 30 for 30 on that LMU team -- unless you’re prepared to watch the video of Gathers collapsing on the court.