Everyone seems willing to speak about the Miami Heat’s dreary 2013-14 season lately.
Just a week after Dwyane Wade compared that season to a “bad marriage,” Ray Allen was asked about that characterization in a Sports Illustrated interview promoting his new memoir From The Outside: My Journey through Life and the Game I Love. And Allen responded, saying that the Heat “didn’t adjust” to having “the oldest team in the NBA.”
RN: In what way do you mean the organization didn’t adjust?
RA: 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. 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.
Now, the Heat adjusted for Wade, placing him under a “maintenance program” in which he missed several games for rest. During the Heat’s playoff run that year, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst claimed that the program “occasionally frustrated” other Heat players. But maybe the Heat should’ve cut back on games and practices for all their older players, according to Allen.
Allen’s comment about cancelling shootarounds may have something to do with Doc Rivers, who eliminated the morning practice routine in the 2009-10 season as coach for the Boston Celtics. The Celtics made it to the Finals that year before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games.
Erik Spoelstra took the high road in responding to Allen’s comments, starting off with, “I love Ray.” Spoelstra also joked that he ran into Allen while walking his dog recently and that Allen did not run him over with his car, 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 while in the intersection. He looks great. … I will forever be grateful to Ray.”
Allen, who said he goes in-depth about his departure from the Celtics in his book, doesn’t want to bite his tongue as he’s promoting this new book. He gave his honest answer and critiqued the organization.
My opinion? The Heat made mistakes during the Big Three era prioritizing older players over younger, dynamic ones in building a team that was always going to sputter at the end. Miami cut a scrappy second-round pick named Patrick Beverley from their training camp in 2011 and opened a roster spot for Erick Dampier.
It’s hard to question the signing of Allen, who made the biggest shot in Heat franchise history, but where was the signing and development of younger players to fill in the shoes of Allen, Shane Battier and Rashard Lewis? Miami’s doing that now, finding players like Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson. That fatal flaw did the Heat in.