Heat coach Erik Spoelstra says Hassan Whiteside leaving bench early was ‘unacceptable behavior’
Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside caused quite a scene late in regulation during Tuesday’s loss at the hands of the Orlando Magic. Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said Wednesday that Whiteside leaving the bench early before the game ended was “unacceptable behavior” for the big man:
Erik Spoelstra said Hassan Whiteside exhibited “unacceptable behavior” leaving bench early last night. Added matter was handled internally.
— David Furones (@DavidFurones_) December 5, 2018
Whiteside’s frustration could be well-founded as he was just coming off a dominating 23-point, 20-rebound performance against Rudy Gobert and the Utah Jazz. The defensive big man had solid numbers in the Magic game and was not in foul trouble. Before he left the game, he put up 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocks on 86 percent shooting from the field.
However, Whiteside was benched for the entire fourth quarter as the Heat struggled in Orlando, leading to this incident.
Whiteside defended himself for his move, saying he had stomach problems and had to go to the locker room:
Hassan Whiteside said he left last night with stomach discomfort and couldn’t wait any longer. “The situation kind of made it a bigger deal,” he said.
He added, “I think it’s a bigger deal because it’s me.”
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) December 5, 2018
This may be so, but the fact that Spoelstra called out Whiteside and said the situation was handled internally makes this excuse suspicious. Leadership is not Whiteside’s asset, and his approach regarding his frustrations could be a distraction for the team. To be fair, the Heat have been largely inconsistent this season, and there’s no telling what their real goal is this year.
After the game, Spoelstra commented on the current mood in the locker room, per Mark W. Sanchez of the New York Post:
“Everybody, if they’re angry, frustrated, pissed, funnel it into the team until we get the changes that we want right now,” Spoelstra said about a team that is neither trying to tank nor has a clear path forward. “That’s it. We have enough to be able to push this thing forward the way we want to. This lack of consistency is killing us right now.”