Update: Friday morning
Not sure if you caught it last night, but Chicago Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo went off on his teammates — even comparing them to his former teammates with the Boston Celtics — in a long post on his Instagram page:
My vets would never go to the media. They would come to the team. My vets didn't pick and choose when they wanted to bring it. They brought it every time they stepped in the gym whether it was practice or a game. They didn't take days off. My vets didn't care about their numbers. My vets played for the team. When we lost, they wouldn't blame us. They took responsibility and got in the gym. They showed the young guys what it meant to work. Even in Boston when we had the best record in the league, if we lost a game, you could hear a pin drop on the bus. They showed us the seriousness of the game. My vets didn't have an influence on the coaching staff. They couldn't change the plan because it didn't work for them. I played under one of the greatest coaches, and he held everyone accountable. It takes 1-15 to win. When you isolate everyone, you can't win consistently. I may be a lot of things, but I'm not a bad teammate. My goal is to pass what I learned along. The young guys work. They show up. They don't deserve blame. If anything is questionable, it's the leadership.
It will be fascinating to follow not just the Heat-Bulls game tonight in Chicago, but also the potential fallout from the obvious issues surrounding this team and its collection of players.
Original story: Thursday, 3:51 p.m. ET
CHICAGO – The Miami Heat are catching Dwyane Wade at an interesting time.
Miami faces the most popular player in its franchise’s history for the third – and final – time this season, Friday at the United Center. Although Wade’s Bulls won the first two games and at 23-24 hold the No. 8 seed in the East, 6.5 games ahead of 16-30 Miami, all is not calm in the Windy City.
On Wednesday, Wade had an outburst like he never had during his 13 seasons in Miami after Chicago blew a 10 point lead in the final three minutes of a 119-114 home loss to the Hawks. Wade finished with 33 points and his BFF, Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, had 40. But it was the way the rest of the Bulls played that had Wade steaming like Lake Michigan on a cold winter day.
“It just doesn’t mean enough for guys around here to want to win ballgames,’’ Wade said. “It pisses me off, but I can’t be frustrated and I can’t care too much for these guys. They have to care for themselves.”
But Wade was just getting warmed up, accusing his teammates, save Butler, of not caring.
“I wish I could say that everyone in here is going to go home and not eat tonight. I can’t say that. I wish I could, but I don’t know that they care enough. Games are supposed to hurt. You’re not supposed to sleep, you’re not supposed to want to talk to anybody. These games are supposed to hurt. I don’t know if that is in guys in this locker room. Hopefully, they can prove me wrong, but I will challenge them to see if losses like this hurt.’’
Wade then referenced his three titles in Miami.
“I’m 35,’’ he said. “I have three championships. It shouldn’t hurt me more than it hurts these young guys. They have to want it. If they don’t want it, then we’ll show up and play Friday. Hopefully, we’ll win. If we don’t, then we go to dinner again and keep it going until the season is over. It has to change. It has to hurt inside to lose games like this. This (expletive) should (expletive) hurt.’’
Wade and Butler also were upset about the shot selection of their teammates after the Bulls took a 10 point lead. Chicago finished the game making just 2-of-9 shots but Butler hoisted four of those shots (making one) and Wade missed the only one he launched. The two scored 21 of the Bulls’ final 23 points.
“At a point in the game like that, no offense, but you got to get the ball to your best players,’’ Butler said. “That’s just how the game goes. Let it come down on my shoulders or D-Wade’s. Let us be the reason why. I understand if you’re open, yeah, shoot it, but (not) at a time when a guy is making shots like he was and like I was. I felt like everything was going in that I put up there.”
“Just play every possession like it’s your last. We don’t play hard all the time.”
Wade is second the team in scoring to Butler, averaging 19.1 points per game on a career-low .428 shooting. He left the Heat last summer to join his hometown team, signing a two-year, $47 million contract, with a player option for $23.8 million the second year.
Interestingly, he catches his former team playing as well as they have all season, winning five straight after going 11-30 the first half of the season. And a big reason for that success has been because of the man who replaced Wade in the Heat lineup. Guard Dion Waiters is averaging 30 points while shooting a red-hot .614 from the floor (.684 on three pointers) in his last three games.
Wade’s rant came one day after he hinted he may consider leaving the Bulls after one season if they decide to blow it up and trade Butler. Butler, he said, is one of the main reasons he joined the Bulls.
During that interview on Tuesday Wade said he was not happy being 23-23.
Just one day later and Wade is a lot unhappier.