2016 NBA playoffs: Spoelstra says Whiteside made him better coach

Erik Spoelstra talked about the ups and downs of his relationship with Hassan Whiteside. (Getty Images)
Erik Spoelstra talked about the ups and downs of his relationship with Hassan Whiteside. (Getty Images)

The relationship between Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and Hassan Whiteside hasn’t always been smooth, but there’s clearly a strong connection.

Whiteside has spoken a few times, seemingly with appreciation, about how Spoelstra demands perfection from him and is trying to make him great. Spoelstra is mostly supportive of Whiteside when he talks to the media, but he was unusually open today about where things stand between them:

What’s the experience been like coaching Whiteside?

Spoelstra: “Last summer we spent a lot of time together in the gym, but also off the court, and then we’ve been through a lot this year. All those things help build your relationship. It’s the good, the bad and everything in between.”

Whiteside and Spoelstra at Whiteside's charity event this month. (Getty Images)
Whiteside and Spoelstra at Whiteside’s charity event this month. (Getty Images)

Why have you been so intentional about putting in time with him?

Spoelstra: “You have to get to know people. I feel maybe as I’ve gotten older as a coach I’ve started to get that a little bit more. I really enjoy Hassan. I care about Hassan. I’ve spent a lot of time with him and I know how much time he puts into this. He does care, and I think sometimes that gets translated in different ways, but I see him behind the scenes. When you spend a lot of time together and you go through the fire together, your bond naturally grows.”

What works with him, coaching-wise?

Spoelstra: “Depends on the day. Adapt. He’s that kind of personality. That’s what makes him unique. He’s made me a better coach as well.”

Did he ever come around about it being a good thing to finish top-3 in Defensive Player of the Year voting?

Spoelstra: “He was fine today. We didn’t even talk about it.”

Did you like him being upset about finishing third?

Spoelstra: “Yes. Things like that and his competitiveness down the stretch last year — we didn’t make the playoffs, but we had very competitive games and he showed his competitive side.”

[2016 NBA playoffs: Heat roster, mentality suited for return to half-court offense grind]

[On their 10-year anniversary, a look back at the Heat’s 2006 championship team]

[2016 NBA playoffs: Heat’s Winslow, Richardson in rare class of franchise’s rookie contributors]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s