Heat fans have suddenly turned into Lakers fans.
No, they’re not rooting for the Lakers, but they are showing the ridiculous level of impatience, the sense of entitlement, the acting like spoiled children. Apparently this team is not good enough. Maybe those fans would prefer the 47, 43 and 15-win teams of the three previous years.
To be fair to the fans, everyone in Miami is frustrated. The Heat are slumping while running into a lineup of good teams — the white-hot Lakers are next on Thursday — and that has led to some desperate, bad ideas to take hold in South Beach. Tom Haberstroh of ESPN tweeted one on Tuesday during the latest Heat game:
Yep. “We want Riley” chants at AmericanAirlines Arena. Heat down 9 with just under 7 mins left.
The Heat would go on to close that 9-point gap down, but some bad defensive decisions down the stretch — which mirrored bad defensive decisions all night — cost them the game.
How much blame should go to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and how much goes to the players who seem unwilling to execute his game plans is up for debate. Spoelstra came in demanding the Heat be a defense-first team and their D has been good most of season — is it his fault if they decide to stop executing it? It’s not like he stopped coaching it.
Pat Riley would come in with a certain cache. Heat fans might see him as a cathartic release — Riley would call out his superstars in the media and bash their egos more than Spoelstra. His practices would be harder. He would go old-school on them.
But would that really work with this group? Maybe over a short run, but would these players rebel against it over time?
Riley has said he doesn’t want to return to the bench. The last time Riley coached? It was that 15-win team mentioned above. He is not a cure-all.
Riley may not want to be on the bench in part because he sees the flaws you do with this squad and realizes it is more personnel than coaching. Riley could take over and make the ghost of Red Auerbach his lead assistant and that still wouldn’t make Erick Dampier and Joel Anthony good centers.
But some fans want him. The only way a change is happening is if Micky Arison (the Heat owner) wants him, and that seems highly unlikely. Especially at this point in the season. But keep on chanting Heat fans.