Erik Spoelstra in Heat Firestorm

Coach Ron Meyer: Erik Spoelstra in Heat Firestorm

The midday Friday news that the Miami Heat had cancelled practice just added more fuel to the firestorm in the wake of Dwyane Wade's meltdown Thursday Night in Game Three of Miami's Eastern Conference series with the Indiana Pacers.

Head coach Erik Spoelstra is right in the middle of it all, trying to keep everyone on the same page before the season, and possibly the dreams of the dream trio of Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh implode right before our very eyes.

Personally, I think giving everyone a day off was a brilliant move. The series doesn't resume until Sunday. So, there will still be a day to practice, talk things through, and hopefully salvage the season. It was clear Thursday Night that Wade wasn't going to cool down quickly. And, I could also tell that the members of the Heat who were mad at Wade (other players and coaches) weren't going to cool down either.

I have a lot of experience coaching star players with huge egos at both the college and pro levels in football. I was in charge of SMU during the Pony Express years. I was head coach for both the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts in the NFL. Here's some of what I learned during that time:

  • Most superstars have to be coddled. It would surprise many avid fans to know how insecure most superstars are. This is true in all sports. You have to spend extra time with these guys because they grew up always hearing about how great they are. They're not used to adversity. They don't respond well to it at first...but then often respond to it very well once they've got their focus and composure back. To be a true champion, you have to overcome adversity. Coaches have to spend a lot of time focusing on the mental element of helping stars do that. It's pretty clear that Spoelstra has lost that ability with Wade right now. Wade doesn't respect his coach, and lost the motivation to pretend that he did.

  • Most superstars get frustrated easily when the pressure is on them in the playoffs. They lose patience with their coach, their teammates, and themselves. This can blow up very quickly if you're not careful. Part of coddling is recognizing when panic is starting to set in. Wade was clearly expecting a championship run this year. When things started going badly in Game Two of the Indiana series, you could see him getting antsy. He knew Chris Bosh wouldn't be available for any more games in this series (and might be out longer). He could see that his teammates weren't stepping up. He lost his composure during Game Two and never really got it back.

  • Some superstars grow up playing the villain (particularly defensive players), and thrive on negative press and energy. But, the guys who grow up as heroes often have trouble adjusting their mindsets when the fans or public turn on them. Wade was starting to hear the rumblings that any Miami failures would be his fault because LeBron just won the MVP. He was starting to be portrayed as a thug because of some rough play he instigated. Some saw him as the "goat" of Game Two because he missed a late layup when many thought LeBron should be shooting. He wasn't the funny guy in the TV commercials who was famous for his charity work any more. I personally believe he really resented this recent turn of events after everything he's done to present himself as a role model.

Things could really get messy this weekend if Spoelstra doesn't find the right tone with Wade. If Miami loses Game Four Sunday on the road, it's going to be very hard to rally back and take the series. Who knows what that might mean for the future of the "big three" because Wade will clearly get the bulk of the blame if that happens. On the other hand, if Spoelstra does get everyone back on the same page, a road victory gives home court advantage back to the Heat...and they would remain favorites to win this series, the Eastern Conference, and probably the league title if Bosh is able to return.


I'll be watching how Spoelstra handles this challenge very closely. I already have a pretty strong view about what's going to happen. I've been in similar scrapes before. I think I have a much better sense of how this is going to play out than the legal betting markets do. No oddsmakers have ever been head coaches at a professional level in any sport. I'm the only man in the handicapping industry who knows what it's like to lead a team during a firestorm like this.

That's one of the main reasons I'm 20-8-1 since April 30th in the NBA playoffs. You can purchase my pro hoop picks and my top baseball plays right here at this website with your credit card. If you have any questions about my programs, please call my handicapping office at 1-877-540-8787. I'll have at least one big play Saturday when the two Western Conference series are on the schedule. And, something special is definitely on tap for Sunday when Miami-Indiana resumes.

The Miami Heat may or may not have the right man on the sidelines at the moment. Veteran players don't always respect young coaches, particularly those who came from the video room rather than earning their stripes as NBA players. I've earned my stripes as a coach AND as a handicapper who's made a living in Las Vegas since retiring from the locker room. If you're ready to win and WIN BIG, it's time to put A COACH IN YOUR CORNER!


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