Time for Ray Allen, Dwyane Wade to stop whining, take responsibility for Heat’s failure in 2014

Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers of the Miami Heat look on from the bench against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Three of the 2014 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

DETROIT – The real mystery is how the Heat even made it to the Finals in 2014. No, how did they manage to win 54 games and even qualify for the playoffs?

With a team already in a “bad marriage” while still newlyweds and being punished and pushed and otherwise abused by the organization by being forced to actually practice and – gasp – give back to the community.

How did they do it?

That season ended with Miami failing to win a third straight title, losing in the Finals in five games to a San Antonio team in the midst of one of the league’s longest running dynasties.

The season, as it would turn out, was the fourth and final year of the LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh era, one in which Miami reached the Finals each year.

Now, that team is back in the spotlight thanks to a couple of players unable to accept that Miami was flat out beaten by one of the greatest teams, and coaches, in the history of the sport.

Wade comparing that team to a bad marriage and Ray Allen whining about being overworked and required to make public appearances is nothing more than two stars looking for excuses for their, and their team’s, shortcomings. Wade made  43.8 percent of his field goal attempts in the Finals while Allen shot 41.5 percent.

Wade and Allen come off as deflecting responsibility. And now we are all waiting for the next excuse – especially from the one member of that group who never lets an opportunity for a passive aggressive tweet slip by.

So what’s next? The Heat not providing marriage counseling. Or perhaps they did not arrange for drivers to chauffer their players around town.

Whatever, this is a bad look.

First, let’s take Allen, who threw Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra and the entire organization under the bus by essentially blaming them for not looking out for the best interests of their players. This after they paid him $6.3 million over two years to ride out his career as a 26-minutes-per-game 3-point shooter off the bench.

Allen, while speaking to Sports Illustrated to promote his new book, said in a story published Thursday the Heat “never adjusted” to having an old team.

“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.

Players are required to make 12, one-hour appearances each season as part of the collective bargaining agreement. So Allen is complaining about something approved by the players association. For the Heat, the team’s Family Festival and Charitable Fund Gala count toward that number and if a player spends more than an hour at an event, the team will count it as multiple appearances.

One of those Galas, by the way, was held at Allen’s home. And yes, that night counted as one of Allen’s appearances. So Allen was allowed to check off one of his required appearances when he never left his home.

That’s a total of 12 hours a year to give back to the community that supports these players by spending their hard earned money on tickets and merchandise, money that has contributed to someone like Ray Allen earning $184 million during his 18-year career.

And if Allen felt worn down, perhaps he should have backed off his own meticulously planned workout regimen. Allen, who has admitted to being obsessive compulsive, was a maniacal worker who took care of his body like none other in the league, one reason for his longevity and going down as arguably the greatest pure shooter in NBA history. Part of that routine was arriving early every day, including games, and going through his own routine before practices and shootarounds.

But it was Spoelstra who wore him down.

“I don’t know if anybody has a perfect formula,” Spoelstra said, carefully choosing his words. “So we constantly tried to improve it and work on the schedule. Who knows looking back on it whether it was the right call or not. We didn’t end up winning a championship, but it was a terrific team. What an incredible run. Nothing should be taken away from that.”

Said Udonis Haslem, a team captain and the lone holdover from the Big Three era to today: “That’s Ray’s opinion.”

Wade offered his opinion when asked about the Cavaliers’ early season struggles. He believed the chemistry had eroded and compared that 2013-14 team to a “bad marriage” because the players “had been around each other four years in a row. Your jokes weren’t funny anymore to other guys. When you walked in, it wasn’t a big smile no more. Guys were just over you.”

Wade’s theory takes a big hit when you look at the opponent that season. The Spurs somehow managed to keep their marriage together for more than a decade. San Antonio’s Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili came together as a group in 2002, the year Ginobili was drafted and 12 years later they were winning a fourth title while playing in their fifth Finals.

Since when is four years the expiration date on an NBA marriage? Tell that to the Bulls or the Larry Bird Celtics or Riley’s Lakers who managed to win five titles in nine years.

“Bad marriage” or just another excuse?

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[Erik Spoelstra on Rodney McGruder accompanying Heat on road trip: ‘It’s great. It’s also annoying.’]

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Erik Spoelstra discusses the end of Heat’s Big Three era: ‘I look at that team with so much respect and joy’

SALT LAKE CITY — Even with all of the negativity surrounding the end of the Heat’s Big Three era, coach Erik Spoelstra can look back and remember the good times.

“I look at that team with so much respect and joy,” Spoelstra said in advance of Friday’s game against the Jazz, the fifth stop on Miami’s six-game trip. “It’s a chapter out of all of our lives that will always be there. Nobody can ever take it away from us. It is not easy to do what that team did and I think eventually everybody will be able to look back on that in such high regard and celebrate really what we were able to accomplish together.” Continue reading “Erik Spoelstra discusses the end of Heat’s Big Three era: ‘I look at that team with so much respect and joy’”

Ray Allen says Heat made the 2013-14 season “tough” on team by not “adjusting” to having older players

Ray Allen has fired the second shot while describing the end of the Heat’s Big Three era.

After Dwyane Wade compared the 2013-14 season to a “bad marriage,” Allen told Sports Illustrated that the organization and coaching staff “didn’t adjust” to having older players on the team. Allen, who has not played since the 2013-14 season, was promoting his new book, “From the Outside: My Journey Through Life and the Game I Love.”

Allen said players were required to do too  many appearances and coach Erik Spoeltra scheduled too many practices.

“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 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.”

Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen and LeBron James of the Miami Heat look on from the bench in the closing minutes against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals in San Antonio, (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Spoelstra took the high road when asked about Allen’s comments Thursday following practice  as the Heat prepared for Friday’s game in Utah. He started by saying, “I love Ray,” before adding,  “if we didn’t win three in a row, I think we should be open to criticism. 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 also joked that recently, while walking his dog, he saw Allen, who was driving, and that Allen did not run him down so it can’t be all that bad.

“I was walking my dog across an intersection in Coconut Grove,” Spoelstra said. “He didn’t run me over. He had an opportunity to. I appreciated that. We actually stopped traffic. We chatted for a whole in the intersection. He looks great. … 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 and been to two Finals. The Heat advanced to the Finals for the fourth straight season in 2014 before being dominated by San Antonio in five games.

“It certainly was tough on all of us as players,” Allen said. “Organizationally, I don’t think they ever adjusted. 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.”

Recently, Wade was comparing what the Heat went through that season to what Cleveland is experiencing this year with Wade and James reuniting in September when Wade signed with the Cavs after agreeing to a buyout with the Bulls.

“As a team we were kind of like this,” Wade told reporters in Cleveland. “It was worse because it wasn’t new guys. It was guys who had been around each other four years in a row. Your jokes weren’t funny anymore to other guys. When you walked in, it wasn’t a big smile no more. Guys were just over you.

“It’s like being in a bad marriage. But we somehow made it to the Finals.”

Allen played a huge role in the Heat’s 2013 title. With Miami trailing San Antonio  in the Finals, 3-2, Allen hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds of Game 6, sending the game into overtime. Miami won that game then captured its second title of the Big Three era in Game 7.

Allen was asked about that shot.

“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,’” he said. “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.”

A picture of that shot covers a large portion of one wall outside the Heat locker room, a floor-to-ceiling reminder of the most famous basket in Heat history.

“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,” Spoelstra said.

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Former Heat center calls himself ‘biggest bust in NBA history’

Greg Oden is eager to do whatever Miami asks of him in the playoffs.

Greg Oden was one of the most highly touted centers to come out of college in the last decade, but he failed to live up to expectations during an injury-plagued NBA career that spanned just three seasons, including one with the Miami Heat.

Oden, who played the final season of his career with Miami in 2013-14, told ESPN that he will be remembered as the “biggest bust in NBA history.” He also went on to say that, at age 28, he won’t continue to pursue an NBA career because his health won’t allow it.

Injuries were the downfall of Oden’s career as the seven-foot center from Ohio State failed to stay on the floor for any expended period of time, being sidelined by several knee injuries throughout his NBA tenure.

After missing his entire rookie season following microfracture surgery on his right knee, he returned in the 2008-09 season to play in 61 games for a Portland Trail Blazers team that picked him first overall in the 2007 draft. His string of good health continued into 2009-10, when he played and started in 21 games for Portland before breaking his left kneecap. He did not appear in a game again for Portland, who decided to part ways with Oden after his contract expired following the 2012-13 season. He averaged 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds in the 82 games in which he played for the Blazers.

Oden signed with the Heat in free agency and played limited minutes in 23 games for Miami, averaging 2.9 points and 2.3 rebounds in 9.2 minutes per game. The Heat made the decision not to re-sign Oden after the one-year experiment.

While Oden’s per-game numbers aren’t impressive, the argument can be made that if he could have stayed healthy, he would have been a productive pro. His career per-36-minute averages of 14.9 points, 11.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks point toward Oden being a capable big man if he had been able to stay on the court.

Kevin Durant, the man selected just behind Oden with the second pick in the 2007 draft, argued there’s no way Oden should be considered a bust.

“Nonsense. That’s nonsense,” Durant told ESPN. “In order for you to be a bust, you have to actually play and show people that you progressed as a player. He didn’t get a chance to.”