Kawhi drama is dominating the NBA conversation and one of the reasons that’s happening is the fascination of finally seeing cracks in the Spurs wall. I guess its more proof that schadenfreude is real. For years the San Antonio Spurs have been the golden standard of how to run an organization. 20 years of playoffs, team-first mentality and no drama are staples of playing in San Antonio. A close second in organizational excellence are the Miami Heat.
It’s not surprising when you take Pat Riley’s career into account. The man has rings as a player (Lakers in ’72), assistant coach (Lakers in ’80), coach (Lakers ’82, ’85, ’87, ’88 and Heat ’06) and as an executive (Heat ’06, ’12, ’13). Riley understands that culture is everything, that it has to come from the top and that no-one gets special treatment. The same way Pop treated Duncan as any other player on the Spurs, Pat Riley does the same with any Heat player.
You probably remember the whole ‘posse’ scandal with Phil Jackson. Putting the comment Phil said to the side, what we learned was not even LeBron could get the team to bend the rules a bit so he could spend a night in Cleveland with family and friends. They don’t do overnights. Period.
Game 2 had Miami players pick-up Simmons and the rest of the 76ers for 94 feet, pressuring every play all night long. The reason Miami can afford to do so is the supreme conditioning that has become the staple of The Heat Way. As Seerat Sohi wrote for SB Nation, when Wade came back to the Heat he had the highest body fat of all the players. The Heat checks their players body fat and has a weigh in two times a week!!! The maximum body fat allowed is 9% and they are not kidding about it. When he arrived from Toronto James Johnson had 14% body fat and he slashed it to 7%. Wayne Ellington showed up with 12% and dropped to 6.5%.
If a team is playing in Philadelphia for instance its not unusual for players to ask for a philly cheese steak on the flight out. Unless you are on the Heat plane, then you will get something in the lines of salmon with rice. The discipline is rigorous and that’s why they say Miami is not for everyone. As Udonis Haslem said in the previously mentioned Seerat Sohi article: “It’s not a job….It’s a lifestyle.”