Sports Envoy
Sports Envoy Program

Sam Perkins


Served as envoy

  • 2005  –  Algeria
  • 2008  –  Kyrgyzstan
  • 2008  –  Kazakhstan
  • 2009  –  Qatar
  • 2010  –  Indonesia
  • 2011  –  South Sudan
  • 2012  –  United Kingdom
  • 2022  –  Albania

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Perkins attended Samuel J. Tilden High School. He later attended and graduated from Shaker High School in Latham, New York. He was named large-school player of the year (high school) by the New York State Sportswriters Association in 1980 and was also named to the 35 Greatest Boys McDonald’s All Americans team.

Perkins attended college at the University of North Carolina and played basketball for the North Carolina Tar Heels from 1980 to 1984. He was named ACC Rookie of the Year in 1981 and starred alongside future NBA Hall of Famers James Worthy and Michael Jordan on the Tar Heels’ 1982 NCAA championship team. A three-time All-American, Perkins was the 1984 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year. Perkins finished his collegiate basketball career as the Tar Heels’ all-time leader in rebounds and blocked shots and as the second-highest scorer in team history. He graduated from UNC in 1984.

Perkins was a co-captain of the gold-medal-winning 1984 U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team.

Chosen by the Dallas Mavericks as the fourth overall pick in the 1984 NBA draft, Perkins went on to play as a power forward and center in the NBA from 1984 to 2001. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 1985. Perkins played for the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Seattle SuperSonics, and the Indiana Pacers, respectively. He scored a career-high 45 points on April 12, 1990. Perkins tied an NBA record on January 15, 1997 by making eight three-pointers without a miss. He appeared in three NBA Finals: The 1991 NBA Finals (with the Lakers), the 1996 NBA Finals (with the SuperSonics), and the 2000 NBA Finals (with the Pacers). In Game One of the 1991 NBA Finals, Perkins made a game-winning three-point shot to defeat the Chicago Bulls. He was known by the nicknames “Sleepy Sam”, “Big Smooth”, and “The Big Easy”.

Since his retirement in 2001, Perkins has been actively involved in a variety of charitable endeavors, including Special Olympics, Nothing But Nets in conjunction with the United Nations, Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers, Carolina for Kibera, NBA Cares, Basketball Without Borders and Habitat for Humanity.

In 2002, Perkins was named to the ACC 50th Anniversary men’s basketball team as one of the fifty greatest players in Atlantic Coast Conference history.

In 2008, Perkins was named vice president of player relations for the Indiana Pacers. That September, he was inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame.

In October 2011, Perkins traveled to South Sudan as a SportsUnited Sports Envoy for the U.S. Department of State, where he worked with Hall of Fame NBA center Dikembe Mutombo to lead a series of basketball clinics and team building exercises with youths, the South Sudanese Wheelchair Basketball Team, and 36 coaches.

Perkins was named to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018.

Rolando Blackman


Served as envoy

  • 2009  –  Lebanon

Rolando Blackman is a Panamanian-American NBA player who was a four-time All Star, spending most of his time with the Dallas Mavericks. Blackman attended Kansas State University where he played basketball and earned a number of noteworthy achievements including: Big Eight Conference Player of the Year, All-American, 3-time unanimous All-Big Eight selection, 3-time the Big Eight Defensive Player of the Year, and scored 1,844 career points (the second-highest total in KSU history).

Prior to the start of his senior year, he was picked as a starter for the 1980 Summer Olympics basketball team. During his time with the Mavericks, he made 6,487 field goals and scored 16,643 points which was a franchise record for 18 years until 2008. In his 865, Blackman never fouled out of a game.

Jerome Williams


Served as envoy

  • 2009  –  Bahrain

Jerome Williams was a star Magruder High School basketball team who was recruited by Georgetown before being drafted out of by the Detroit Pistons with the 26th pick of the 1996 NBA Draft (the pick originally belonged to the San Antonio Spurs and went to the Pistons in the Dennis Rodman trade), he played four-plus years with the Pistons, becoming one of their key reserves.

In 2001, he was traded to the Toronto Raptors and was so excited about joining his new teammates that he drove from Detroit to Toronto that same day. In 2002-03 with the Raptors, Williams averaged 9.7 points per game, primarily as a starter, his career-best scoring average. Williams also made a cameo appearance in the Disney Channel movie Full-Court Miracle. Following his time with the Raptors, he played for the Chicago Bulls for one year as well as the New York Knicks before retiring from his NBA career in 2005.

Williams joined the NBA’s “Basketball Without Borders” program, an effort to teach the game and bring resources to underdeveloped nations in Africa, Asia and elsewhere. Williams continues to be a part of youth development through basketball as he was appointed the President of The Young3 which holds 3-on-3 tournaments for young people ages 9–14. Alongside other basketball legends and himself, they have implemented a digital educational program throughout North America and coupled that with talks. The name of the program is called Shooting For Peace.

Jason Maxiell


Served as envoy

  • 2009  –  Uganda

Jason Maxiell began his basketball career during his time at the University of Cincinnati from 2001 to 2005. He is best known for his time spent with the Detroit Pistons but has played for the NBA and in China and Turkey.

During his time at the University of Cincinnati, he earned Conference USA Sixth Man and All-Freshmen team honors as a freshman. Maxiell earned All-Conference USA second team honors in both his junior and senior years. And as a senior in 2004–05, he led Conference USA in blocked shots (2.8 bpg) and ranked 18th in the nation. His 91 blocks are the second-highest University of Cincinnati single-season total. Maxiell was selected by the Detroit Pistons with the 26th overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft, playing for Pistons until 2013 when he signed with Orlando Magic.

He signed with Tianjin Ronggang of the Chinese Basketball Association in 2015 and played for them for a year. On January 30, 2017, Maxiell signed with the second-tier Turkish team Acıbadem Üniversitesi before retiring later that year as a Detroit Piston.

Erik Spoelstra


Served as envoy

  • 2009  –  Philippines
  • 2014  –  Philippines

Erik Spoelstra is the Head Coach of the Miami HEAT. He was elevated to his current post on April 28, 2008 when HEAT President Pat Riley stepped down as Head Coach.

Known for his game preparation and superb attention to detail as the HEAT’s Assistant Coach/Director of Scouting, Spoelstra had the primary role of developing game plans for upcoming opponents for the past seven seasons. To that end, he coordinated the video staff and advance scouts while overseeing the development of scouting reports and videos.

Spoelstra has also built a strong reputation as a teacher over the years by heading the HEAT’s Individual Player Development Program. Erik has worked with many of the HEAT’s young players in areas of fundamentals, skill development and shooting. He also served as the head coach of the HEAT’s summer league squad for three seasons (2005-07).

Additionally, Spoelstra helped design and integrate a proprietary statistical database and scouting software for the HEAT. The HEAT continue to use the state-of-the-art statistical software to evaluate team productivity, individual player productivity and trends for both the HEAT and the team’s opponents.

Spoelstra originally joined the HEAT as the team’s video coordinator in 1995 where he spent two seasons preparing scouting tapes and developing the team’s information technology for the coaching staff. He served as Assistant Coach/Video Coordinator the following two seasons (1997-99). He was then promoted to Assistant Coach/Advance Scout and served in that role for two seasons (1999-01) before being elevated to Assistant Coach/Director of Scouting.

A 1992 graduate from the University of Portland with a degree in communications, Spoelstra was the starting point guard for four years for the Pilots and was named the West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year. After college he spent two years as a player/coach for Tus Herten, a team in the professional sports league of Germany.

Spoelstra is the son of Jon Spoelstra, a long-time NBA executive who has guided the Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets and New Jersey Nets. His grandfather, Watson, was a Detroit Tigers beat writer for many years.

A native of Portland, Spoelstra resides in Miami.

David Fizdale


Served as envoy

  • 2009  –  Philippines

David Fizdale begins his first season as an assistant coach for the HEAT after serving the previous five seasons as an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks. He began his professional career assisting in the HEAT’s video room during the 1997-98 season. Among his responsibilities in his new role, Fizdale will be assisting in the areas of player development, scouting, game preparation and other duties assigned by Head Coach Erik Spolestra.
The 34-year old Fizdale returns to Miami after spending the past four seasons (2004-08) as an assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks where he played an instrumental role in the development of their young players. He helped the Hawks increase their win total in each of his final three seasons and during the 2007-08 season, they earned the franchise’s first postseason appearance since 1999. He began his NBA coaching career as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors for one season (2003-04).

Directly before joining the Warriors, Fizdale worked as an assistant coach for one season at Fresno State University (2002-03) where his responsibilities included player development and serving as the school’s recruiting coordinator. After concluding his collegiate playing career and spending one year as the HEAT’s video intern in 1997-98, he began his coaching career with a four-year stint (1998-2002) as an assistant coach at his alma mater, the University of San Diego. During his final year with the Toreros he was the top assistant for coach Brad Holland. While at USD, he was in charge of scheduling, served as the recruiting coordinator and worked in player development and on-court coaching.

A three-year starter at point guard while playing at the University of San Diego, Fizdale was selected to the All-West Coast Conference team after his senior season in 1996. A Los Angeles native, Fizdale earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and a minor in sociology from San Diego in 1996. He is single and currently resides in Miami.

Jay Miller


Served as envoy

  • 2008  –  Morocco
  • 2009  –  Bolivia
  • 2010  –  Thailand

Coach Miller is the Executive Director of Coaching for the Atlanta Fire United Soccer Association, a club with over 4,000 members. He also serves as the head coach of the Region III boys Olympic Development Program (ODP)
Coach Miller was the head soccer coach at the University of Tampa, where he won six consecutive conference titles and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II National Championship in 1981. He also coached the University of South Florida Men’s Program to four conference titles.

Coach Miller has over 20 years of international coaching, training and scouting experience, including the position of the USA Under-17 National Team Coach, USA U-23 National Team Coach and the interim coach of the full USA National World Cup team.

He has served as the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) National Coaching Coordinator 1994-2001 and has been instructing on the National Staff since 1978. Coach Miller holds a USSF National “A” Coaching License.

Jay earned a Bachelor of Science and Masters of Education from East Stroudsburg University in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

Michelle Kwan

Figure Skating

Served as envoy

  • 2007  –  China
  • 2007  –  Russia
  • 2008  –  Argentina
  • 2009  –  Ukraine
  • 2010  –  South Korea
  • 2011  –  Singapore

Michelle Kwan has had a distinguished career in public service, diplomacy, and sports. She is the most decorated figure skater in U.S. history, having won 43 championships, including five world championships, nine national titles, and two Olympic medals. She became the first Public Diplomacy Envoy in 2006 and for a decade, traveled extensively on behalf of the U.S. Department of State to engage youth around the world on social and educational issues. Kwan currently serves as the Treasurer and Board Member of Special Olympics International.

After she earned a B.A. from the University of Denver with a focus on international relations and a M.A. from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, she became a Senior Advisor at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. In addition, she served as an Advisor to the Office of Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State, where she assisted with the U.S.-China Women’s Leadership Exchange and Dialogue. She was also a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition and Council on Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports initiative at the U.S. Department of State.