Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra talks team bonding, Chris Bosh on final day of camp
The ongoing feud between Chris Bosh and the Heat’s front office clearly hasn’t changed the opinions of his coach or his teammates.
Their support is still there for him.
“My thoughts don’t change. And they won’t change,” coach Erik Spoelstra said Saturday when asked how Bosh’s comments on Friday toward the organization made him feel.
“I love Chris Bosh, his family. I said this so many times, Chris was very important to me as a head coach. With those teams, he was somebody I really leaned on. That extended outside the lines. It’s something I really have enjoyed and my hope is that relationship can continue.”
In case you missed it, Bosh, who has battled blood clots over the past 21 months and who failed a team physical last week, took aim Friday at team president Pat Riley in the fourth installment of his self-directed series, “Bosh Rebuilt.”
In it, Bosh not only declared his NBA career not over, he also claimed the Heat never reached out to him before Riley told a handful of beat reporters on Monday the franchise was no longer working toward his return and that Bosh’s career with the organization was probably over.
The Heat, through a spokesman on Friday, promptly and firmly replied to Bosh’s claims about not being reached by the team by saying Riley had called, texted and emailed Bosh as well as his agent and manager to set up a meeting last week, where the team was going to inform him of its intentions.
The Heat claims Bosh and his representatives never responded to any form of communication. Plus, Riley said Monday that Bosh had informed the team previously he was not going to speak with the organization again until he was cleared medically.
None of that ongoing drama, though, seems to affect his teammates or coaches that much.
“My heart goes out to him,” said veteran Udonis Haslem, the only remaining piece from the Heat’s past two championship teams. “I haven’t been in this particular situation, but I know how it feels to have a blood clot and I know how it feels to be in that situation. It’s not really comfortable; it’s painful.
“So there are a lot of things he’s going through, a lot of emotions he’s going through. You’re looking at somebody who has been a basketball player all his life. This is something that he knows, something that he loves. It’s not easy just to walk away from that.”
Guard Tyler Johnson, who spent a lot of time last season rehabbing from his own injury alongside Bosh, said on Monday at media day he just wants to see Bosh healthy. That sentiment was echoed by most of Bosh’s former teammates still with the team, including Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside.
“I can’t really speak for the whole team, but for myself it is saddening because he was one of the guys who was a mentor to me,” Johnson said shortly after learning on Monday that Riley said the team was no longer working toward Bosh’s return.
“I think first and foremost [his health is] where my concern comes in — making sure him, [wife] Adrienne, his whole family [are OK]. I mean, he has five children. As much as we love basketball, I think we can all say we love our family a little bit more. Until more news or results come out from everything, first and foremost, I just hope that’s taken care of.”
HEAT BREAKS CAMP
▪ Saturday’s final practice at the Atlantis Paradise Resort ended with point guard Dragic (knee soreness) and center Whiteside (left knee soreness) not participating in contact drills. Neither issue is of serious concern to Spoelstra.
Whiteside, who also worked off to the side on Friday, and Dragic, who said he was just sore from having played a lot this summer with the Slovenian national team, both expect to play in the Heat’s preseason opener on Tuesday at Washington.
The soreness for Whiteside is not in the same knee he severely sprained during the playoffs.
▪ Guard Josh Richardson, who sprained his MCL on Sept. 9, said he made some progress during camp but is still experiencing pain with certain movements. The Heat still hopes he will be ready for the season opener on Oct. 26.
▪ Spoelstra said he’s not sure who will start in Tuesday’s preseason opener just yet.
“I’ll chew on that all the way until [Tuesday],” he said. “I’m going to have to learn a lot. Actually, I’m thankful we have eight preseason games. We’re going to need these games to evaluate and continue to get ready.”
▪ On Friday night, the entire team got together for a barbecue on the beach and some bonding time.
“It helps when you go away,” Spoelstra said. “Going back to when [Riley] was coaching, you always like to get away and just have more opportunities that are unscripted [for bonding]. It has to be organic. You can’t force it upon a group. It just happens very naturally here. Like I said, it was a great environment to be here and the bus rides, all the meals we had together. The team barbecue last night was fun.”