Behind The ScenesNBA

Lifelong Celtics fan now finds himself in the Heat of the moment with Miami highlights

Gavin Cote (Rich Arden / ESPN Images)
Gavin Cote (Rich Arden / ESPN Images)

“… and coach of the Miami Heat, former ESPN Content Associate, Gavin Cote.”

While you might never hear that introduction at an NBA arena, consider that Erik Spoelstra’s path to becoming Heat coach included four years as a video coordinator for the team, something Cote’s been doing since December — albeit while coordinating Heat video highlights for SportsCenter.

“I don’t think they’ll be calling,” Cote said. “Spoelstra’s doing a good job.”

So is Cote, who joined ESPN full-time a year ago this month after a summer production internship in 2011 prior to his senior year at Ithaca (N.Y.) College where he majored in Sport Media. Already responsible for Oklahoma City highlights, Cote got word this winter he was being re-assigned to Miami by Coordinating Producer Judson Burch. (Note: The Thunder, Lakers and Heat have designated production assistants while other NBA teams and game assignments rotate among the ESPN Production Assistants).

“We were impressed with Gavin’s work before the season started, so we knew he would do well with the Thunder, and he did,” Burch said. “When production assistant Wesley Allen went to SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight, Gavin had already proven he could handle a big-time team. His sense of storytelling and his poise under pressure made him an excellent choice; by the time ‘The Streak’ started [Miami won 27 straight games between Feb. 3 and March 25], Gavin had grown as a television producer, and during ‘The Streak’ he put together some really unique highlight packages.”

Cote, a native of Dexter, Maine — who respectfully wears Dexter shoes as a sign of hometown pride — is on a streak of his own, logging all but a handful of Heat games since December.

And what did he do when Miami played on one of his days off? “I watched at home,” he said, recalling Miami’s first post-streak game when LeBron James scored 28 points in the first half against New Orleans on March 29.

“LeBron always has incredible performances, but you have to find the appropriate balance [in a highlight package],” Cote said. “You don’t want to do a disservice to the other players.”

With so much interest in the NBA’s top team, Cote is able to delve deeper into research and tell more stories about the Heat.

“I feel fortunate to have the luxury of relaxed time restrictions,” he said, citing the nearly six-minute package after Game 1 of The Finals that aired on SportsCenter. “It was one of our better ones — we had so many elements and themes, it was an incredible team effort that got it done.”

Cote, a 6-foot-4, life-long Celtics fan who loves basketball and plays regularly at the ESPN employee gym, calls his job “a dream assignment,” though he admits to taking a good-natured ribbing from his Celtics pals for the change in allegiance his job now requires.

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