MIAMI – All eyes will be on Bulls guard Dwyane Wade tonight which means a lot of attention on the players who are guarding the most prolific scorer in Miami Heat history.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was asked today how excited the younger players will be to guard Wade and what he would tell them.
‘“Stay down!”’ he said before describing Wade’s game. “Dribble left. Hesitate. Shot fake. ‘Stay down! Stay down! Don’t spectate on him.’
“It should be exciting. He’s a Hall of Famer. One of the all-time greats. These are the moments you want to cherish and remember. If you’re a competitor once you get out between the lines the ultimate respect you can show someone is going at them and competing against them every single possession and getting into that battle. Our young guys are wired that way so I’m sure they’re excited about it.”
Wade returns to face the Heat tonight for the first time since signing with his hometown Chicago Bulls this summer.
Heat center Hassan Whiteside got the coach’s message. Whiteside was asked what happens when Wade comes in the lane.
“Stay down on the pump fake and try to get the block,” Whiteside said.
Nobody has played in more games as Wade’s teammate than Udonis Haslem. The two joined the Heat in 2003-04 and played together for 13 years.
That friendship could save Wade if he and Haslem are on the court at the same time.
“We’re going to compete,” Haslem said.
Haslem was then asked if he would take a charge.
“However I’ve got to get it done,” he said. “It could be taking a charge. It could be going up to block. Whatever the situation may be.
“I won’t foul him as hard as I’d foul somebody else.”
Haslem believes business as usual for all sides once the game starts.
“I think both sides are going to go out there and compete at a very high level,” he said. “Only time it really hits you is off the court when you look at him in another jersey. … when I’m watching it at home. Once we step between the lines it’s business as usual.”
Haslem then threw a jab at the player who owns 24 Heat career, season and game records.
“He gave us a great 13 years, three rings, Olympic gold medalist,” Haslem said before adding, “behind me probably the second best player in the history of the organization.”
Of course, Haslem was smiling.