Miami Heat coach Spoelstra on mid-game Jimmy Butler spat
Erik Spoelstra and Jimmy Butler clashed during a timeout as the Miami Heat lost to the Golden State Warriors, but the coach said it merely showed the team's passion.
Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said his mid-game coming-together with Jimmy Butler was a sign of the passion and high standards in the team.
Spoelstra, Butler have to be separated during timeout
Coach Spoelstra and six-time All-Star Butler, along with Udonis Haslem on the Heat bench, appeared to exchange fiery words and gestures during a timeout as Miami struggled against the Golden State Warriors.
Golden State bolted to a 69-50 lead after scoring the first 19 points of the third quarter, and amid this slide came the dispute within the Heat ranks.
Spoelstra slammed a clipboard down onto the court and confronted Butler before others attempted to separate the pair.
"We have a very competitive, gnarly group"
Allowing himself to joke after the game, which saw the Heat roar back to establish an 84-81 lead before crumpling to a 118-104 defeat, Spoelstra explained the incident.
"Everybody was wondering where the dinner plans were tonight after the game," he said, before answering more seriously.
"It was pretty clear, we have a very competitive, gnarly group, and we were getting our asses kicked, and it's two straight games we were not playing to the level we wanted to play.
"Every person in that huddle was pretty animated about our disappointment at how we were playing."
Spat could have positive effect on Heat, Spoelstra suggests
This game followed a 113-106 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Eastern Conference-leading Heat's record now stands at 47-26.
Asked about whether the public bickering could have a lasting impact, Spoelstra said: "It won't, we have bigger things to accomplish, but we do want to play better, and everything has to be better across the board.
"It starts with our leadership, our veteran players have to lead, and then we just have to play better, play better to our identity and that's really all the discussions were.
"I know how it can look from the outside, but that is more our language than playing without passion or without toughness, or without multiple efforts and lifelessness.
"Everything that happened in the hall from then on, as we cut that 19-point lead, that's way more to our personality."
Spoelstra even hinted the flash point could have a positive impact.
"You can use moments during a season to catapult you. You can galvanise together over frustration and disappointment," he said. "Teams can also go the other way. I don't see that with our group. But we have needed a kick in the butt from these two games.
"These two games were disappointing to everybody. You see a competitive group that is not playing to the level or the standards we want to play at.
"Let's give credit to Golden State. We played with great passion to get back into the game, but they executed well, and they made some big shots."