Spoelstra talks after Thursday’s practice in Phoenix
The way former Miami Heat players on the 2014 NBA Finals team have taken shots at the franchise lately there may need to be an intervention before a reunion.
A week after Dwyane Wade compared the Big 3’s final season together to a “bad marriage,” Ray Allen told Sports Illustrated on Thursday the organization and coaching staff “didn’t adjust” to having older players on the team. Allen, 42, said the Heat forced the players into doing too many appearances and coach Erik Spoelstra scheduled too many practices and shootarounds.
“It certainly was tough on all of us as players,” Allen told Sports Illustrated while promoting his new book “From the Outside: My Journey Through Life and the Game I Love.”
“Organizationally, I don’t think they ever adjusted,” he continued. “Most of the guys, having gone to so many Finals, me being an older player, having played a lot of basketball the last five, six years, organizationally and coaching wise they didn’t adjust.
“We had the oldest team in the NBA, and on top of that, we had such a bad schedule. Every holiday we were away from home. Every situation we were in we were fighting to just stay above board, trying to figure out how to sleep or rest our bodies. We wore down, we were tired, and we were definitely tired at the end. We still were good, and we still made it to the Finals.”
Spoelstra, whose team was practicing in Phoenix Thursday afternoon before boarding a flight to Utah to continue a six-game road trip with a game against the Jazz Friday night, took Allen’s words to heart.
“I love Ray. I walk by his picture every day and tap it, of just an acknowledgment of how special that time was and how it’s one of the iconic, all-time iconic shots in NBA history. So I love him,” Spoelstra said.
Then, Spoelstra opened up more.
“If we didn’t win three in a row, I think we should be open to criticism,” he said. “It’s tough, it’s tough to win in this league multiple years, going four years in a row. I tip my hat off to teams that have been able to win three in a row. But I love Ray.”
Spoelstra said he recently bumped into Allen, who still lives in South Florida and still is very much involved with the Heat when it comes to community events and the promotion of his restaurant.
“I actually bumped into him about six, I don’t know, weeks ago,” Spoelstra said. “I was walking my dog across an intersection in Coconut Grove. He didn’t run me over. He had an opportunity to. I appreciated that.
“But he looks great. We actually stopped traffic. We chatted for a while in the intersection. He looks great. We support his new venture, we order lunch from his restaurant, weekly, all the time. So, I will forever be grateful to Ray.”
Allen played his final two seasons with the Heat, joining Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh after they had won one title. Allen played a big role in winning the second. In the 2013 Finals, Allen played a huge role in Miami rallying from a 3-2 deficit to beat the Spurs, hitting a three-pointer in the final seconds of Game 6 and sending the game into overtime.
“People always ask me if I remember it. I’m like, “Uh, which shot are you speaking of? I don’t know which one you’re talking about,’” Allen told Sports Illustrated. “Do I remember it? Somebody did this huge picture and I have it on the wall in my house. It’s boarded all over the wall. We actually forget that it’s there half the time.
“For me it’s not about the shot as much as the preparation. That lifelong preparation that went into me being in that situation. I think it’s the Game 6 shot more than anything that people ask me about. They always tell me where they were when it happened. It’s pretty interesting, as much as I hit the shot, it’s more about where people were and how it affected their life more than anything else.”
Ultimately, though, Allen blames management for why the Heat didn’t win three titles in a row and instead lost to the Spurs in the 2014 Finals 4 games to 1.
“With a team as old as we were, and with as much basketball as we’d played, we were still doing a million appearances, we still were having all the practices, and doing all the things that typically wear you down by the end of the year,” Allen said. “Just being on your feet so much. The team didn’t learn how to manage our bodies better.
“When your players have played in June the last three or four years, by this time you have to figure out how to get people off their feet. We don’t need to have a practice. We don’t need to have a shootaround. We just have to be mental. From those aspects, you wear yourself down long term.”