It appears that way after watching the talented guard blow up on head coach Erik Spoelstra during the third quarter of Thursday’s Game 3 against the Pacers.
Wade has typically been viewed as the Heat’s leader, and someone who’s likely to lead vocally and by example. LeBron James might be the MVP, but Wade has been the face of the franchise since the Heat drafted him in 2003. James and Chris Bosh — who comprise Miami’s Big Three alongside Wade — have essentially been guests at a that Wade hosted.
Wade is a champion, an eight-time All-Star and, by all accounts, one of the league’s more professional individuals, which is what makes Thursday’s uncharacteristic outburst so shocking. And while it’s easy to give Wade a free pass in most instances given his overall body of work and the way in which he has carried himself so far throughout his NBA career, there is no way to justify Thursday’s incident.
With the Heat struggling against the Pacers and Wade in the midst of a dismal performance, the guard’s on-court frustration spilled over to the Miami bench, as he could be seen jawing at Spoelstra, reportedly telling him to “get out of my [expletive] face!” Wade was then restrained by teammates, including veteran Udonis Haslem, while continuing to appear visibly frustrated.
Not only was Wade out of line for acting in such a manner toward his coach, but given how poorly he was playing, Wade should have expected to get chewed out by Spoelstra. Not that Spoelstra did chew him out — as he hardly seemed angry at Wade before the confrontation — but the second-year coach would have been well within his right to deliver a verbal lashing, if not bench the superstar completely.
The freakout by Wade was the main storyline of Thursday’s loss, which put Miami in a 2-1 series hole, and it’s something that speaks volumes about the dysfunctionality of the Heat. Suddenly, the much-anticipated Celtics-Heat Eastern Conference final showdown isn’t a foregone conclusion, simply because Miami might not hold up to its end of the bargain.
There’s three guys who have all been franchise players on Miami’s roster, yet none seem willing to take the reins as the team’s leader. Wade was the one guy who you could easily point to and fully expect to assume that position, but the freakout indicates that he perhaps holds a belief that he’s above Spoelstra.
Spoelstra has been faced with a difficult task since becoming head coach prior to last season. His work has constantly been overshadowed by however the team’s superstars are performing, but managing Miami’s personalities has been the toughest part of the gig. When you have three players who are used to being the guy all coming together on one squad, you’d expect there to be some jockeying for position when it comes to being the team’s leader, but no player — superstar or not — should undermine the head coach under any circumstance, especially when it happens out in the open like it did on Thursday.
We don’t know what happens behind closed doors or how the Heat truly feel about their head coach, but Thursday showed that Erik Spoelstra might not have the total respect of every player on his team. But after watching Wade’s childish freakout, it’s the player who the fans should lose a little respect for.
Wade sure seemed like a good guy, and sometimes good guys make mistakes. Thursday’s blow-up was unacceptable, though, no matter how you slice it.