ESPN’s Chris Broussard, who really hasn’t been heard from since he shot to fame in June before LeBron picked the Heat, dropped a bomb this morning: The Heat are frustrated with coach Erik Spoelstra. The rumors have been swirling for weeks, and were magnified when LeBron bumped Spoelstra Saturday night in Dallas. Spoelstra tried to downplay the bump today, but nobody’s buying that reasoning.
Why is this such a bomb?
1) Broussard, an Akron native, is perhaps the reporter closest to LeBron’s inner circle. Broussard’s an affable reporter who used to write for the New York Times (and much less significantly, was very friendly to me the few times I covered the NBA back in my newspaper days), and was all over the LeBron-to-Miami story in late June-early July. Although the headline says “Heat players,” you don’t need Scotland Yard to figure out this came from LeBron.
2) LeBron’s camp can’t be happy with the public beating their boy is taking. Not so much on the court, but off it – the move to Miami has been a public relations disaster. When was the last time so many fans were rooting so hard for one team to fail in the NBA’s regular season? LeBron’s legacy used to be the sick comeback against the Pistons in the playoffs in 2007, when he put a bunch of scrubs on his back and went to the Finals. That’s a distant memory after the debacle that was “taking my talents to South Beach” and the 9-8 start.
What LeBron’s idiot handlers didn’t realize when they leaked this news to Broussard was this – it’s pretty clear that if Spoelstra gets fired, the blood will now be on LeBron’s hands. As Jason Whitlock noted, LeBron just wants to have fun out there! (If you take away the LeBron bump and this leaked story, fans everywhere are probably cool with Spoelstra getting canned because the kid was in over his head.) What a great message to send – just let the superstar have fun. How bad will the media pound LeBron if he gets a second coach fired in six months?
Can you imagine how pissed Pat Riley must be at LeBron’s camp? I can’t imagine that Riley would want to take over now. Would he want to inherit this injury-depleted team and lose in the playoffs? Because right now, this doesn’t look like a championship team. And let’s not act like the Heat are a few coaching pointers away from a championship. Riley’s best move would be to wait until the offseason, take over the team, try to somehow tinker with the salary cap, and bring in some decent role players. Riley’s best option is to be fiercely loyal to Spoelstra over the next 48 hours and for the rest of the season.
What a mess.