Tim Cone, a 24-time basketball champion head coach in the Philippines, has had the unique opportunity to be part of the Miami Heat’s summer league coaching staff in California and Las Vegas over the past two weeks.
This union was formed because of the 64-year-old Cone’s strong relationship with Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, in part because of the connection of the two tactics in the Philippines.
Cone, who coaches the most popular Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) franchise Barangay Ginebra, is widely considered a “GOAT” for his tremendous success that began with his coaching debut in 1989 with the Alaska Aces.
Spoelstra, a two-time NBA champion, is half-Filipino. Although he didn’t live long in the most basketball-obsessed country in Asia, there’s no mention of his fame there, so Cone called his popularity “almost godlike.”
The Miami head coach also tried to connect with his other country, often recognizing reporters from there with the classic Philippine greeting to “Long live.”
Next year Spoelstra, who is part of Team USA’s coaching staff, will visit Manila, the capital of the Philippines and one of the host nations of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
Many in the NBA consider Spoelstra one of the best – if not the best – coaches in the league and he played a big part in shaping the popular “#HeatCulture” in which their franchise became known.
Even though Cone had known Spoelstra for over a decade, even though he had read about what that culture required before this stint, and even though he also considered himself a disciplinarian coach, he was still surprised. he also pays attention to detail with Miami’s coaching staff. preparing for each tournament.
“The Miami Heat is a really hard-driving team,” Cone said in an interview organized by the Heat for the media in his home country.
“They’re incredibly disciplined. They’re incredibly focused on detail. I’d like to think I’m detail-oriented-I have that reputation back home-but it’s like me and them,” he said, displaying a gap. between his arms.
“Big difference. Their details go deeper than mine. “
The process began when Miami gathered rookies, unstructured players, and other hopefuls within two days to begin their California Classic campaign. There were four exercises that took place over the next two days. Although in a hurry, the squad felt they had prepared enough for the competition.
The Heat started their summer league campaign with two heavy losses, rebounded to win two straight games, then dropped their next two – most recently a close crusher to the Philadelphia 76ers.
“They keep staying on course, they keep coaching, and they deal with the same things and they drill it into the guys and they’ll take it,” Cone said of the squad’s journey, led by head coach Malik Allen.
“Being a part of that and watching that progress is an eye opener for me.”
Work begins with coach staff meetings, which are professional from the start.
“They are not just talking. They really live it, ”Cone explained. “When you walk into a team meeting, the guys can’t get in their slippers, you have to take off your hats. The coaching staff must be fully equipped. ”
He added: “You have to come in, sit down, and be good. They do it and come out. The players really buy it.”
It helps Miami find specific players that fit their culture. Cone called them “buy-in guys.” He joked that contrary to what some might believe, players ’body fat percentages are not checked every 15 minutes, but admitted that there are“ a lot of teeth ”in concepts about what“ culture ”is. that.
“It’s one thing to be in the NBA; it’s a whole other thing to be with the Heat, ”said Cone, almost delighted. “The culture they bring is unique even in the NBA. Everyone’s talking. “
So when he met his former players who were in the Summer League – working in various jobs now around the NBA – they seemed to admire that from all the teams Cone worked for, it was this particular .
“’Wow, are you with the Heat? You’re kidding me, with the Heat? ‘”He often heard.
At the end of the day, however, “basketball is basketball,” which is something Spoelstra always says to Cone, too.
“You often face the same issues – how the players get along, the coaching aspect. It’s almost the same, but it’s very different. “
Cone left Las Vegas on Thursday to return to his PBA team, which has lost two consecutive games in his absence and currently sits at 3rd spot in the league standings.
The mentor with 24 rings is not yet concerned. After all, learning from growing pain on the road often pushes his squads to higher heights when the playoffs spin.
And he will already have new concepts and studies to bring to his team, even if the implementations may not come all at once.
“It’s really indescribable,” he said of his time with the Heat.
“It’s been a busy time but the people here are just tremendous and they treated me like family so they made it really easy for me.”
Cone will always remember this period in his outstanding career as “amazing,” though that word may not give enough justice to how special it has been for him.