Hassan Whiteside’s boorish attitude might doom him almost as quickly as his dominant play this season made him one of basketball’s best stories. Following the 25 year-old’s ejection from Monday night’s loss to the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade said it’s high time for Whiteside to take responsibility for his actions – or otherwise risk ensuring his renaissance will be short-lived.
Here’s Wade via Lason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post:
“[Whiteside’s] had enough veteran advice,” Wade said. “You have to do it yourself. There’s only so many words people can say to you. You’ve gotta do it. If not for you, do it for the other guys you see sacrificing and playing hurt. You’re part of a team.
“We all have our selfish moments, but you can’t continue to have them. You’ve gotta be reliable and be able to be counted on. If he continues to act that way, he’s not reliable. He’s a good player, a young kid, but he has to quickly learn from his mistakes. Hopefully he does that.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was more supportive of his short-tempered center, but still made it clear Whiteside’s act is growing thin on the Heat. “We’ll handle it, and it’ll be corrected,” Spoelstra said. “Everybody’s responsible to the team. When there are actions, there are consequences that affect the team.”
Whiteside was ejected following an obviously malicious two-handed shove to the back of Kelly Olynyk late in the third quarter. Just moments before he was assessed a flagrant-2 foul for the incident, a frustrated Whiteside threw an errant elbow toward the face of Boston’s big man.
The seven-footer has been ejected in two of his last four outings – he was tossed from last Monday’s game with the Phoenix Suns after wrestling Alex Len. Whiteside’s two ejections are tied for the league lead and his seven technicals rank tied for 11th despite him playing fewer games and minutes than any other player among the league leaders in each category.
Given Whiteside’s utter dominance as a rebounder and paint protector and obvious scoring talents, it’s been easy for laymen to wonder why he took so long to catch on in the NBA. This latest spate of immature on-court antics makes it obvious, though. Whiteside, for lack of a better term, is a hot-head.
What Miami must ask itself is how best to curb that trait from being manifested on the floor. A benching seems a good idea – especially considering Whiteside has another year remaining on his contract – but the Heat need him to stay alive in a competitive race for one of the last two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
Pointed words from Wade, Spoelstra, Pat Riley, and company will likely have to suffice for now. But if Whiteside’s true colors are finally showing, both he and Miami have a bigger problem on their hands – for the short- and long- terms.