Hassan Whiteside was yanked from the Miami Heat’s Monday night loss to the Golden State Warriors for what appeared to be poor defensive effort. Afterward, he received what we can only assume was a stern-yet-loving-yet-also-concerned talking to from Miami Heat captains Goran Dragic, James Johnson and Udonis Haslem.
The Miami Herald‘s Manny Navarro has the details:
So, instead of taking the time to explain it to him like he might have in the past, Spoelstra let the Heat’s $98 million center sulk by himself on the bench while rookie Bam Adebayo took the rest of Whiteside’s minutes in the second half of Miami’s 97-80 loss at Oracle Center. Then, afterward, Spoelstra let the Heat’s trio of captains deal with Whiteside’s issue internally.
Johnson added the following on the matter, per Navarro:
“Minutes is earned, man. Minutes is earned on this team,” co-captain James Johnson said. “We had our talk [with Whiteside] as we should as a team and as the three captains that we are. And he gets it, man. I know he gets it.
“He’s the most athletic guy I know. He’s the heart of our team and he’s also the best big man in the league to me. I don’t care what nobody says. That’s just my opinion.”
Props to Johnson for building up Whiteside while also criticizing his effort. That approach is a good one.
Inconsistent effort has long been considered Whiteside’s greatest flaw, dating all the way back to his 2014-15 breakout, when Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were both still with the team. It was easier to overlook, if dismiss, back then, when he was just a feel-good story. But now he’s the Heat’s highest-paid player, working through the second season of a four-year, $98 million. They cannot afford for him to lose track of himself or his man on defense.
Whiteside will in all likelihood respond with a more inspired effort when the Heat face off against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. But the key for him this year, and for the rest of his career, is bringing intensity on a regular basis, every damn night—not just when things are going well or when he feels particularly involved.