The scene after the game was almost made for a drama.
A star player answering questions while sending non-verbal signals that he was mad at his head coach. That head coach demanding more from him team without mentioning the star player.
That is what the Miami Heat experienced between guard Dwyane Wade and head coach Erik Spoelstra, and the team has become used to the scenario.
The four-year player/coach relationship between Wade and Spoelstra, while being mostly successful, has hit some bumps along the way. The clashes were small enough to be missed by the casual observer, but were large enough to raise questions about Wade’s respect for Spoelstra. This weighted heavily in the NBA punditry especially considering that Spoelstra’s legendary predecessor, Pat Riley, still loomed in the Heat front office. It was thought that those differences would be enough for Wade to leave Miami when he became a free agent.
Then the Summer of 2010 came to the Heat, and with it LeBron James and Chris Bosh. The dynamic changed, but the differences remained.
Nowhere was this more evident than in game three of last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Indiana Pacers.
In a timeout during the game Wade, who has his worst playoff performance that night, let his frustration be known to Spoelstra and to the television cameras that caught the incident. Wade went on to play better through the rest of the playoffs.
The incident became great fodder for the NBA punditry, but no permanent rift emerged between Wade and Spoelstra.
The benching of Wade on Monday night won’t lead to a rift either. It is just another chapter in the relationship that has had its rocky points, but has been successful for both player and coach.
All one needs to do is look at the championship banners at American Airlines Arena for proof.