Depending on one’s point of view, the incident that occurred on the Miami Heat bench during Wednesday’s loss to the Warriors was either a case of bitter, team-wide strife finally bubbling to the surface, business as usual and no big deal at all, or something in between.
Here’s what we know to be fact: after the shorthanded Dubs when on a 19-0 run during the third quarter, tempers flared during a Heat timeout. At various junctures throughout the exchange, Erik Spoelstra and/or Udonis Haslem had to be held back from Jimmy Butler while the six-time All-Star was similarly restrained.
The two sides were also captured on video challenging one another to fight. Spoelstra was caught throwing a clipboard in anger as well.
When asked about the altercation after the game, though, Spoelstra and multiple Heat players indicated that what transpired during the timeout was actually more “them” than their listless performance in the game itself.
Coach Spo, Lowry & Bam Sound off
For his part, Spoelstra chalked the exchange up to the club’s competitive fire. He opined that the rising temperature on his bench was fueled by discontent over a pair of uninspiring efforts.
“It was pretty clear. We have a competitive, gnarly group and we were getting our asses kicked for two straight games,” Spoelstra said postgame. “We’re not playing to the level that we wanted to play. Virtually every single person in that huddle was pretty animated about our disappointment in how we were playing.”
He further noted that the dust-up could serve as a motivator going forward.
“You can use moments during the season to catapult you. You can galvanize together over frustration and disappointment. Teams can also go the other way. I don’t see that with our group. I don’t see that with our locker room. But we have needed a kick in the butt.”
Meanwhile, starting point-man Kyle Lowry asserted that there’s nothing to see here. In a similar vein to Spo, he claimed that what happened was the byproduct of competitive drive.
“Listen, our guys really want to win basketball games and we have guys that work extremely hard,” Lowry said. “The passion comes out. The fire and the emotions come out sometimes. But like I said, to us it’s nothing. We conversated and had a conversation and we continue to build.”
Bam Adebayo had a similar take, adding: “This is us in practice; it just so happened that it boiled like this in the game. In practice, we get like that to that point where like it looks like we want to fight each other when we get that mad, but it’s just the competitive nature that we have on this team.”
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PJ Tucker Isn’t Sweating the Kerfuffle
Elsewhere, PJ Tucker took a more lighthearted approach to what transpired, both during and after the showdown.
“I laughed, man. I walked off the court laughing. Come on, let’s play,” Tucker said. “We’re grown men, man. This is a part of the game. I haven’t been on any team that emotions didn’t run over sometimes… get back together, everybody loves each other, blah, blah, blah.”
Later, he took to his Instagram story to shout out a tweet from Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma indicating that this was (weirdly) the first time anyone had heard about the Heat this season despite the fact that they’re No. 1 in the East.