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.”
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.”