View Full Version : Heat issues boiling over

12-07-2007, 11:37 AM
Heat issues boiling over

Mourning eases spat between Riley, O'Neal

By Ira Winderman | South Florida Sun-Sentinel
December 7, 2007

PORTLAND, Ore. - Wednesday's venting by coach Pat Riley merely was the public side of simmering tension amid the Heat's season-opening struggles.

Privately, Riley has found himself having to deal with everything from a practice-court spat with center Shaquille O'Neal to questions in his locker room about his preparation methods.

Last week, before the Heat began this six-game western swing that included Thursday's late game against the Trail Blazers, Riley got into a spat with O'Neal and attempted to banish the center from practice.

Only when backup center Alonzo Mourning intervened was the tension defused.

"I don't discuss those things, but those things happen," Riley said. "We don't like losing. The franchise doesn't like losing. We get mad when we lose. And he does, I do, we all do.

"We don't take it well, so some things happen occasionally."

Offered the opportunity to clarify the friction that led him to defy Riley, O'Neal pleaded ignorance.

"I have no idea what you're talking about," he said in a Rose Garden corridor.

He then turned to teammate Mark Blount, smiled, and asked, "You remember that, Mark?"

Blount grinned back, "Nah, I don't remember anything."

While limited, such moments previously have transpired behind closed doors between Riley and O'Neal during their four seasons together.

"That's nothing that's abnormal," Riley said of such feistiness. "Not with me it isn't."

Mourning, who has been most vocal about the team's struggles, said such a display is the residue of losing.

"People don't like to lose, especially the guys that I'm around," he said. "And if you start losing, then obviously some unwanted feelings come out."

Such feelings began to emerge even before the Riley-O'Neal confrontation.

Several players privately questioned Riley putting his team through a rigorous game-day workout before what turned into a 91-76 blowout loss Nov. 13 at Charlotte, a defeat followed the next night by a home loss to Seattle in Dwyane Wade's season debut.

Riley said those complaints didn't even justify being addressed.

"That's just a typical players' response to losing," he said. "We had a great practice in Charlotte. The last thing that players should want to do is say that they're working too hard as an excuse. That's a real cop-out."

Riley, in fact, said he has been mindful of not overworking his team during such a mentally draining time.

"They're not even working now," he said. "They're hardly even working."

Mourning said off-court differences cannot get in the way of what stands as a major reclamation project in the standings.

"Regardless of what happens in a situation away from the court, in that 94-by-50 [court] is where you've got to find some kind of resolve," he said. "I don't care what we do outside the court. You can argue, scream, but when you get inside of 94-by-50 [court], you've got to get it done."

Riley had his moments with Mourning, Tim Hardaway and Jamal Mashburn during the best of Heat times in the late '90s.

The difference, then, Mourning said, was the players chose to make everything but victory inconsequential.

"I'm not pointing the finger at guys and saying they don't care," Mourning said. "But if you care enough about it, you'll do something about it. You'll step your play up, you'll start working a little harder, and when a game gets close, you'll get a little more focused and you'll get a little more determined."

Blazers guard and Hollywood native Steve Blake confirmed he was interested in signing with the Heat last summer, but said he never was offered a contract. "They were more pursuing Mo Williams at the time and waiting for his decision," he said. "I couldn't wait for someone else to make a decision." ...

Guard Daequan Cook spent Tuesday and Wednesday at the Portland home of former Ohio State teammate Greg Oden, who said he is not surprised Cook has had an instant NBA impact. "Every since I've known him, he's the most confident guy ever," Oden said. "He's an offensive genius." ...

Forward Ricky Davis bypassed the offer from TNT to wear a wireless microphone during Thursday night's telecast. "I decided to wait until we win a few games before something like that," he said.

12-07-2007, 12:40 PM
Heat center O'Neal in a foul mood

An angry Shaquille O'Neal criticized coaches and teammates for failing to get him the ball and scoffed at the notion that he is getting too old.

If Heat center Shaquille O'Neal is on the decline, he's not going down quietly.

Upset with his team's poor start, and with his teammate's inability to get him the ball, O'Neal might have reached a breaking point.

O'Neal, 35, is averaging career lows in points (15.4), rebounds (7.4), minutes (28.4) and field-goal attempts (10.8). He also has an all-time low level of tolerance for teammates who can't seem to get on the same page with him, and others who say his age is the biggest reason behind his decrease in production.

''If I'm taking 20 shots a game, and I'm only making two, then you can say my production is going down,'' O'Neal said. ``But I'm still shooting 60 or 65 percent from the field. So they've got to find better ways to get me the ball. It should be simple.''

Asked if he has expressed concerns with teammates or coach Pat Riley, O'Neal said, ``I shouldn't have to [expletive] communicate that.''


This isn't the first time this season O'Neal has voiced his displeasure with his role in the offense. Last month, he responded to criticism from Dwyane Wade and Riley by saying he would do ``things my way, and I don't give a [expletive] who likes it.''

But his increased level of dissatisfaction comes at a volatile time for the Heat, off to its worst start in five years and on a difficult six-game Western Conference trip.

O'Neal insists he delivers big when he's made a consistent priority. He points to a Nov. 23 win against Houston, when he had 26 points and 14 rebounds in 34 minutes.

There have been other times when O'Neal has taken the ball out of his hands by getting into early foul trouble and sitting for long stretches.

''He had a stretch of four or five games when he played phenomenal,'' Wade said. ``But now, the team isn't playing well. So it just doesn't lay on Shaq's shoulders or my shoulders. It's on all of us.''

The Heat plays Friday at Golden State. If O'Neal is capable of dictating a tempo and dominating the outcome, now would be an opportune time for him to show it.

He is shooting his usual 60 percent from the field this season, but his scoring averaged has dipped by five points from the 2005-06 season. And he entered Thursday coming off four games in a row where he attempted fewer than 10 shots.

During that stretch, there was speculation that O'Neal and Riley had to be separated by backup center Alonzo Mourning during a confrontation in practice last week.

Riley would neither confirm nor deny the incident with O'Neal, but he said Thursday there is no lingering issue between them.

''I don't discuss those things, but those things happen,'' said Riley.


There also was talk that O'Neal had stopped initiating conversation with some teammates out of frustration.

''I'm not a yeller -- we already have enough yellers on this team,'' O'Neal said. ``I don't want to sound like everybody else. I just try to keep a positive attitude with the guys. But it's enough talking. We have to do.''

O'Neal believes that starts with better defense, going through him on offense and surrounding him with players capable of stepping up.

''You have to know what the makeup of the team is,'' O'Neal said, hinting he needs more aggressive players on the court. 'Guys should drive, they should cut. I'm a great passer from the post. Other guys have to take it personally if they're fronting me and backing me. You have to say, `OK, they're disrespecting me, so I'm going to get 40 on you tonight.' ''

12-07-2007, 12:49 PM
I'd still take this 60% Shaq on the Mavs, and within a year call him the best Center the Mavs have ever had.

12-07-2007, 12:58 PM
If the Heat could some how swindle the league to make the rest of their games against the Mavericks they just might fix their issues..... at least in the regular season.

12-07-2007, 01:01 PM
That's good to hear. Misery loves company. :)

12-07-2007, 01:36 PM
I'd still take this 60% Shaq on the Mavs, and within a year call him the best Center the Mavs have ever had.

Jet and Damp for Shaq?

12-07-2007, 03:03 PM
I love to see them fail.

12-07-2007, 03:27 PM
Jet and Damp for Shaq?

Miami do it?

Throw in Ager as well.

12-07-2007, 05:45 PM
throw in a second rounder and an alfredo dinner for Dwyane Wade and you got yourself a deal.

12-07-2007, 06:33 PM
I'd add J.J. Barea for the rights to Bennett Salvatore just to be on the safe side.

12-07-2007, 07:01 PM
the heat should have kept antoine walker.

12-07-2007, 09:10 PM
I don't think anyone would question whether the Mavs would take a Shaq at 60%

12-07-2007, 09:16 PM
I don't think anyone would question whether the Mavs would take a Shaq at 60%

People on this board always question.

12-07-2007, 09:28 PM
True, people here didn't even want Kobe


12-07-2007, 11:52 PM
I'd add J.J. Barea for the rights to Bennett Salvatore just to be on the safe side.

These might be more valuable than Shaq or Kobe.......

12-08-2007, 01:56 AM
Shaq went 6-6 today, scored 13 points, grabbed 10 boards, had only 2 fouls, but played 21 minutes...

AveryJohnsonSyndrome rubbing off on everyone?

12-08-2007, 04:30 AM
How many years did Shaq sign for in Miami? How many does he have left?