Things got a bit chippy on the Miami Heat bench between head coach Erik Spoelstra, Udonis Haslem, and Jimmy Butler.
Jimmy Butler is widely heralded for his passion and leadership that occasionally rubs his fellow teammates the wrong way. So what happened during the Heats Wednesday night (Mar.23) matchup with the Golden State Warriors should not surprise anyone who watches NBA basketball.
Frustration quickly spilled over after Butler was called out during a timeout after he got exposed defensively. Clearly, he didn’t appreciate his head coach bringing that to the entire team’s attention. The “passionate” leader of the Heat team challenged his head coach, with Spoelstra snapping back, “What? You think I’m going to f****** fight you?” Heat legend and vocal veteran Udonis Haslem was not here for Butler, challenging the longtime Heat coach telling Jimmy Buckets, “I’ll beat your a**.”
When Haslem says that, he means it.
Both Haslem and Spoelstra had to be separated from Butler, but the head coach used the moment to help fire up his team, who didn’t look like their Eastern Conference-leading selves against a very short-handed Golden State Warriors team. Like an MLB baseball manager, Spoelstra kept the energy going during the kerfuffle by not backing down to Butler and slamming his clipboard onto the court in the direction of Butler.
The Heat would still end losing the home game matchup, and speaking with the press after again, pretty much chalked the sideline dustup to passion. “Listen, our guys really want to win basketball games, and we have guys that work extremely hard,” Kyle 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.”
Spoelstra completely brushed it off, saying, We have bigger things to accomplish. But we do want to play better. Everything else across the board. It starts with our leadership, our veteran players have to lead and then we just have to play better. We got to play more consistently, and that’s really all the discussions were. I know how it could look on the outside, but as I mentioned before, that is more our language than playing without passion or without toughness or without multiple efforts.”
“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,” he further added.
We shall see if it indeed does light a fire under their butts. The Heat have a day off to reflect on the moment and return to action on Friday (Mar.25) when they host the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday (Mar.25).
As expected, the spat between Butler, Haslem, and Spoelstra had NBA Twitter talking. You can peep reactions in the gallery below.
Photo: Eric Espada / Getty