During the third quarter of the Miami Heat‘s matchup against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, March 23, the tension between six-time All-Star Jimmy Butler and OG veteran Udonis Haslem came to a boil.
Video of the altercation between the two Heat teammates hit Twitter, during which viewers can see Haslem needed to be physically held back while screaming at Butler. Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra had to step in and stop the aggressive back-and-forth so the game could get back into play.
It’s not exactly clear what prompted the 41-year-old Heat captain to start screaming at Butler, but regardless of why — it’s not a good look. While Haslem was kept from getting his hands on Butler, Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman tweeted, “Haslem clearly seething. Has remained in seat on end of bench as Heat rally.”
Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang added, “Udonis Haslem was just pulled back from Jimmy Butler. And Erik Spoelstra was also not happy with Butler during that timeout.”
Before the altercation, the second half of the Heat game was going poorly for Miami. Golden State got off to a 19-0 run. However, the Heat were able to put together a strong rally and entered the fourth quarter only down by one point.
Ultimately, the Heat lost 118-104 to the Warriors, which brings Miami’s lead in the Eastern Conference down to 1.5 games. There are nine more games left in the regular season.
Screaming Matches are Nothing New for the Heat, Pat Riley Says It Comes With the Territory
Last season, just one day before Miami’s playoff series started against the Milwaukee Bucks, The Athletic’s Shams Charania detailed how there’s been some serious tension between Butler, the coaching staff, and his teammates throughout the year.
Charania said on May 21, “I’m told there has been very, very testy moments behind the scenes between Jimmy and that coaching staff, the roster at different points. And so, how they’ve been able to navigate that throughout the year — it’s transpired– and now they’re at a point where [the Heat] are on the uptake.”
Heat Preside Pat Riley addressed this matter a few weeks later. He told Le Batard and Friends on June 4, “Whatever rumors are out there about Jimmy Butler and anybody else who might have a problem with me or with Erik or with the team, it’s normal. As long as you can teach me something, as long as, ‘Oh, I get it. I understand.’”
Charania had also pointed out that Butler’s temper is not new news. “I think everyone who knows Jimmy Butler understands that he wears his heart on his sleeve, not afraid to let people know how he feels.”
Star players getting angry and lashing out is not specific to Butler, Riley pointed out. It’s not just part of the job, it’s integral for the team’s success.
Look it, throughout my career as a coach, there wasn’t one player on any team that I ever coached, a key player, that I didn’t have disagreements with, didn’t have yelling and screaming matches with. And whether it was Alonzo Mourning or Magic Johnson or James Worthy or Patrick Ewing of whoever, LeBron, Dwyane, Chris. That’s just the way it is… And if it’s too nice and too quiet, then you want to create something where there’s tension, otherwise you’re going to be apathetic and what you’re doing all the time.
Haslem Once Tried to Stop a Fight Between Shaq & Riley
Countless stories have been told about the fiery relationship between Shaq and Pat Riley, who served as the team’s head coach between 1995-2003 and again from 2005-2008. In fact, the 15-time All-Star detailed a confrontation with Riley in his 2011 memoir, Shaq Uncut: My Story:
I start taking a couple of steps towards Pat. Udonis Haslem steps in and I shove him out of the way. Then Zo tries to grab me. I threw him aside like he was a rag doll. Now it’s me and Riley face-to-face, jaw to jaw. I’m poking him in the chest and he keeps slapping my finger away and it’s getting nasty. Noisy, too. He’s yelling ‘(expletive!)’ and I’m yelling back, ‘No, (expletive!)
Haslem told this story from his point of view in an October interview with GQ :
The fight was me trying to hold Shaq back and he threw me like a sack of potato chips. I’m trying to save Pat’s old a** and Shaq grabbed me and swung me. He threw me down like that and I was just trying to stop him. Imagine if he really wanted a piece of me? I would’ve had to tase him!