This week, two kababayans made their fellow Filipinos proud.
On Wednesday, migrant workers’ rights advocate Susan V. Ople received the 2013 Hero Acting to End Modern-Day Slavery award from US State Secretary John Kerry in Washington DC.
“This is a pleasant surprise, a remarkable blessing. It’s the best belated Father’s Day gift ever for my Amang,” Ople said, giving tribute to her late father, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas F. Ople.
Ople heads the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-profit organization which provides assistance to Overseas Filipino Workers and their families through legal advice, reintegration services and skills for training for those victimized by human trafficking and illegal recruitment.
“Whether in a first world country like the US or in less developed nations, our Filipino workers deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Human slavery exists when people of privilege think that their lives are more important than that of others,” Ople said.
Meanwhile, Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra led the team to a consecutive championship trophy, with a 88-95 victory on Game 7 of the nerve-wracking 2013 NBA Finals.
LeBron James scored 37 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, dished out 4 assists, and teammate Dwyane Wade had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat.
The 42-year-old is only the 13th head coach in NBA history to win at least two NBA titles. This is his third NBA championship, serving as an assistant in the Heat’s 2006 championship run.
Since becoming the Heat’s coach, Spoelstra has amassed a 260-134 record, a .660 win percentage. He’s guided the Heat to five straight playoff appearances, three finals, and two NBA championships.
According to Sports Illustrated (SI), in his five seasons as coach, Spoelstra’s .660 winning percentage ranks sixth among coaches with that long of a tenure.
In the playoffs, Spoelstra’s .639 winning percentage ranks behind only Phil Jackson and Paul Westhead, SI further reports.
The next step for Spoelstra is to join the ranks as a Hall of Famer coach. Will he be able to hack it?
An article from the Associated Press opined that Spoelstra’s “managerial talents tend to go unnoticed” and that he “has either the easiest or hardest coaching job in the NBA.”
“[Spoelstra] knows anything less than a second straight NBA championship would mean failure. So that’s why, at this time of year, the dark circles under Spoelstra’s eyes — a byproduct of not enough sleep — tend to reappear with regularity. He takes nothing for granted, preaches at his team to do the same, and simply wants no part of any conversation that might mention how he could be in line to do something that only seven coaches before him have done: lead a team to back-to-back NBA championships,” said AP.
“There’s a lot of coaches who could coach this team. I wouldn’t be as disrespectful to this profession to say anybody could coach this team. Some coaches could mess it up. I don’t want to be one of those people. We honor that by trying to make the most of this opportunity. That’s all it is,” said Spoelstra on Wednesday, a day before Game 7.
Some critics surmise that Spoelstra is only riding on the fame of his four potential Hall of Fame players (James, Wade, Bosh and Allen); or that his life is easy, having Pat Riley as a mentor and Miami Heat owner Micky Arison, who has deep pockets for winning.
However, the reality is, it takes a really great coach to win succeeding championships.
Former head coach Jeff Van Gundy had this to say about Spoelstra: “Erik is still in the phase where he gets more blame for their losses than credit for their wins, but he’s going to the Hall of Fame. He’s that good. His even‑keel demeanor, his humility, I think helps him really get the most out of his best players.To reach three consecutive Finals is an incredible feat.”
Regardless of what the future holds for Spoelstra, the Miami Heat coach has already earned the respect and admiration of his kababayans.