*(Via ESPN.com) The Miami Heat’s players are frustrated with Erik Spoelstra and some are questioning whether he is the right coach for their team, according to people close to the situation.
With the ballyhooed Heat losing four of their last five games and sporting a mediocre 9-8 record, the players are privately grumbling about Spoelstra on several fronts.
Sources say the players believe he is not letting them be themselves, that they are questioning his offensive strategies, and that they think he is panicking because he fears losing his job.
“Right now, in my opinion, no one is doing a good job,” said Heat guard Dwyane Wade, asked Monday about Spoelstra’s performance. “We’re 9-and-8. We’re all in this together. The players are not doing a good job. The coach is not doing a good job.”
In contrast to the popular view that Spoelstra has been hesitant to jump on Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, sources say the Heat coach has shown no fear in criticizing them.
Exhibit A was a recent shootaround in which Spoelstra told James that he had to get more serious. The source said Spoelstra called James out in front of the entire team, telling him, “I can’t tell when you’re serious.”
“He’s jumping on them,” one source said. “If anything, he’s been too tough on them. Everybody knows LeBron is playful and likes to joke around, but Spoelstra told him in front of the whole team that he has to get more serious. The players couldn’t believe it. They feel like Spoelstra’s not letting them be themselves.”
But Spoelstra, at the Heat’s morning shootaround ahead of Monday night’s game against Washington, said players and coaches don’t always get along — and that’s normal.
“A coach-player relationship in this league often will be confrontational at times. And other times, it’s smooth sailing,” he said. “But just the dynamic of the competitive nature of everybody, expectations, results — all these things combine, yeah, sometimes it will get testy. And that’s good. Especially when people have a pure heart and mind about getting better, that just shows that the sides want to make it right.”
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