Hassan Whiteside is not quite enamored of Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
He can get in line.
Spoelstra, who has been known to ruffle a few of his charge’s feathers over the years, has caught Whiteside’s ire for how he has been utilized in a first round playoff series the Heat now trail Philadelphia 3-1.
“I feel like our offense is a lot different. I’m not as involved in as many dribble handoffs as I was and postups as I was in the regular season. That’s what coach wants,” Whiteside told the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson after a loss in game 3.
“Coach wants me to just be in the corner and set picks. That’s what he wants. I’ve just got to trust it.”
Whiteside is no stranger to riffing on his coach, as he was fined earlier in April for going on an angry tirade about Spoelstra’s tactics. Whiteside, one of the team’s top scorers in the regular season, has seen his floor time cut to 16.8 minutes per game, which is down almost 10 from the regular season. His stats, accordingly, have taken a dive.
Whiteside’s case is far from new. There have been many famous and infamous player-coach feuds over the decades. Here are 20 really heated ones from the ‘Big 4.’
20. Miller Huggins vs. Babe Ruth – MLB
If an award was given to just one professional sports team for “Greatest Dysfunction Between Players and Managers”, the New York Yankees would win, hands down. As successful as they have been on the diamond, Bronx Bombers history is rife with pinstriped legends and their managers having a go at each other. Therefore, we reach into the “Way-back Machine” to briefly chronicle the Babe Ruth-Miller Huggins brouhaha. Ruth played his first season in the Big Apple in 1920 and the popular, large-and-in-charge, fun-loving Ruth chafed at tiny Miller Huggins ways, which had been set around Yankee Stadium for two seasons prior to Ruth’s arrival. Huggins was a disciplinarian and Ruth, naturally, couldn’t stand it. Over the next 10 years, where the Yanks won six pennants and three World Series, Huggins would fine Ruth many times for his insubordinate ways.
19. Brad Childress vs. Randy Moss – NFL
Back in 2010, the Minnesota Vikings were a hot mess. The team got off to a poor start and the coach, Brad Childress, was at odds with star wide receiver Randy Moss. Never one to shy away from confrontation, Moss was said to have gotten into it with New England’s QB coach in 2009 (prompting a trade to Minnesota), where Moss and Childress did not see eye-to-eye. After the Vikings acquired Moss in a trade prior to the 2010 season, Childress was hopeful that the superstar wideout had matured enough not to be a distraction. But, the mercurial Moss was in fact that guy and Childress said that while the team had good guys, mostly, that Moss “walked into the locker room and vomited on it.” Moss struggled in four games catching 13 of 25 passes thrown his way for 174 yards and two TDs. Childress, who didn’t want to upset Brett Favre (who he openly courted to come to Minny the year previous), cut Moss under mysterious circumstances. Childress was later fired as the Vikes stumbled to a 3-7 record.
18. Phil Jackson vs. Kobe Bryant – NBA
During Phil Jackson’s first go around coaching the Lakers, things reached fever pitch in 2003 when stars Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant openly bickered. Combined with a poor bench and injuries, the team was ousted in the second round of the playoffs. This didn’t sit well with Jackson, who then clashed with Bryant. It mostly had to do with Jackson’s “triangle offence” and the fact that Kobe detested it, calling it “boring.” Bryant would often eschew his role in Jackson’s scheme and do his own thing on the court, getting Jackson’s blood pressure up and causing the normally calm “Zen Master” to demand the team ship Bryant out (which was rejected out of hand). The next season, the Lakers still sniped at each other, made the finals and lost to Detroit in an upset. Jackson, who had had enough of Bryant’s act, said he wouldn’t come back if Kobe was still around. So he left and wrote a book, “The Last Season”, that aimed many barbs at Bryant. He came back a year later and the two mended fences enough to win a couple more titles.
17. Mario Tremblay vs. Patrick Roy – NHL
Early in the 1995-96 season, the Montreal Canadiens were struggling badly. Team president Ronald Corey fired GM Serge Savard and coach Jacques Demers. He gave old hand Jacques Laperriere a short stint behind the bench, but ultimately decided on Rejean Houle as GM and Mario Tremblay as coach, neither of who ever occupied those positions befoer. Patrick Roy was the team’s biggest superstar that year and as such, got a lot of leeway from Demers. Not so much when the inexperienced Tremblay took charge and wanted the team to straighten up. Immediately Tremblay and Roy didn’t see eye to eye, which made the dressing room even more toxic. It all came to a head on Dec. 2, 1995 when the Detroit Red Wings came to town. The Wings peppered Roy with shots and eventually built a 8-1 lead into the second period. Roy then made a routine save, which the Habs faithful derisively cheered. After a ninth goal, Tremblay, who was probably sending a message to Roy that he was in charge, finally yanked his troubled netminder. Roy then exited the ice, glared at his coach and then infamously confronted Corey (who was seated behind the Habs’ bench, telling him that he had just played his last game in a Canadiens’ uniform.
16. Jim Leyland vs. Barry Bonds – MLB
In the history of baseball managers and players, there couldn’t have been a bigger match made in hell than that of Jim Leyland and Barry Bonds. In one corner, the profane and surly Leyland managed the Bucs to three post-seasons in his 11 seasons behind the bench, winning two NL Manager of the Year awards. In the other was a young, pre-musclebound Barry Bonds, a superstar in the making who probably got into his own head too much as he wracked up his first MVP award in 1990. At spring training in 1991, the reigning MVP, who was having a contractual dispute with the team, was mailing in an effort during drills and was disrespectful to assistant coaches, particularly former manager Bill Virdon. Leyland, who had his difficulties over the years getting Bonds to toe the line – successfully, most of the time — had heard and seen enough and lashed out at his enigmatic fielder. In an expletive filled tirade, Leyland told Bonds who was boss and that if he didn’t like he he could, in more diplomatic terms, “get his butt out and quit.”
15. Paul Westhead vs. Magic Johnson And Spencer Haywood – NBA
The halcyon days enjoyed by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s weren’t without their pitfalls. The team, with rookie Magic Johnson in the line-up, won its first title in eight years in 1980. However, on the way to the final, coach Paul Westhead and future Hall of Fame star forward Spencer Haywood had a set-to early in the proceedings. Haywood, who by that time was in full blown cocaine addiction, fell asleep during a practice and was cut. Incensed, Haywood plotted to have Westhead killed, even calling a hitman. Fortunately for him, he called it off and left the NBA for good. Westhead’s issues with players, though, would dog him further. He and Magic Johnson would be at odds over the coach’s style, which Johnson called into question during the 1981-82 season. Early that campaign, Magic and Westhead feuded after a contest with Utah and later Johnson asked openly to be traded. Tired of this, owner Jerry Buss fired Westhead. The team hired Pat Riley and the rest is history.
14. Every Coach He Ever Had vs. Terrell Owens – NFL
Terrell Owens, who never met a mirror or a microphone he didn’t like, was often at odd with any coach who dared try and get him to just shut up and play. Wherever the eventual Hall of Fame wideout played, controversy was sure to follow. If it wasn’t Sharpies being pulled out of his sock to sign a football after a TD or mocking linebacker Ray Lewis after another score, Owens very openly called his coaches out for not making him a centerpiece. The first to catch Owens vitriol was San Francisco 49ers coach Steve Mariucci. Owens didn’t like Mariucci’s play-calling, nor the coach’s preference not to run up the score on beaten opponents. Later in his stint with the Niners, Owens and Mariucci’s public nattering increased to the point that Mariucci was gone in 2002 and Owens after the 2003 campaign (to Philadelphia). When he was in Philly, Owens and coach Andy Reid got along fine when the team was winning and headed to the NFC championship. But, a contractual dispute the following year caused Owens to sulk and grate on Reid, who would suspend T.O. for a week midway through the 2005 season, which was later stretched to four games. Reid refused to play him after the suspension was up, too.
13. Earl Weaver vs. Jim Palmer – MLB
The Baltimore Orioles of the late 1960s and 1970s were successful despite the numerous squabbles that manager Earl Weaver and star pitcher Jim Palmer had. Between 1968 and 1982, when Weaver was manager and Palmer the staff ace, Baltimore won six AL East Division titles, four pennants and a World Series in 1970. However, Weaver was a caustic old school bench boss who probably didn’t like the “pretty boy” ways of his multiple Cy Young winning pitching stud Palmer. Often, Palmer would would openly question — through the media — former minor league second baseman Weaver’s strategy or knowledge about pitching and his penchant for over-working starters (like Palmer). Anytime Palmer was pitching and Weaver thought it best to make a visit to the mound, teammates, fans and color commentators could taste the tension in the air. It was truly a hate-hate relationship that produced mostly good results.
12. P.J. Carlesimo vs. Latrell Sprewell – NBA
This very public feud didn’t end very well at all. NBA bad boy Latrell Sprewell didn’t take criticism too well and in 1997 the two-time All-Star and former first round pick snapped, big time. While with the Golden State Warriors during the 1997-98 season, coach P.J. Carlesimo was none too impressed with Sprewell’s effort at an early season practice. Specifically citing Sprewell’s half-hearted passes, he told the player to “put some mustard” on them. Spree wasn’t in a mood for a critique and warned the coach to keep his distance. When Carlesimo got a little too close for comfort, Sprewell threatened his life, grabbed him by the throat and choked him for about 10 seconds before teammates and assistant coaches could intervene. Sprewell, no stranger to violent altercations, would shower and return 20 minutes later to punch his coach and again be pulled away by other coaches. He was suspended by the Dubs for 10 games, which ultimately led to him being sidelined for the remainder of the season (68 games) without pay.
11. Jon Gruden vs. Keyshawn Johnson – NFL
Any Oakland Raiders players with a proclivity to speak their mind ought to keep their traps shut around new head coach Jon Gruden, if they know what’s good for them and their careers. In 2003, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were defending Super Bowl champions and despite a 4-5 start were still in contention for a playoff spot. However, star wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson ran afoul of Gruden with his poor attitude and the fact he was becoming a disruption. The final straw was Johnson laying into his coach on the sidelines, which was caught on TV during one particular game that year. Gruden clearly didn’t like Johnson’s antics and promptly sat his wideout for the remainder of the season. The Bucs finished 7-9 and out of the playoffs and Keyshawn was dealt to Dallas in the off-season.
10. Guy Carbonneau vs. Alexei Kovalev – NHL
Guy Carbonneau’s tenure as Montreal Canadiens coach during the last decade was brief and punctuated with minor successes and some major controversy. The former great two-way forward apprenticed as an assistant coach with Montreal for parts of two seasons before being hired to run the club full time in 2006. The 2006-07 season was particularly tough, as first-year coach Carbonneau and the Habs missed the playoffs (despite a winning record) and star Russian player Alexei Kovalev, in particular, struggled. That season Kovalev scored but 47 points and was -19 in 73 games, and found it necessary to lay the blame at his coach’s feet. In an interview with a Russian reporter (which he later said wasn’t quote accurately), Kovalev criticized the team and Carbonneau for his sub-standard performance, saying that he favored French-speaking players over Russians. Carbonneau did later support Kovalev’s denial, but it left a stain on his career, nonetheless.
9. Lou Piniella vs. Carlos Zambrano – MLB
There aren’t, or weren’t, many more mercurial a manager or player than Lou Piniella or Carlos Zambrano. For years, “Sweet Lou” Piniella — as contradictory alias as anyone ever had — was a scourge first to major league pitchers and then later to big league umpires and players in his charge. In 2010, near the end of Lou Piniella’s long 23-year career as manager, he got into with equally hot-headed Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano. In his decent 12-year career, Zambrano had many on and off-field feuds, which would be a harbinger of things to come with fiery Piniella. Late that season, the Big Z got into with teammate Derrek Lee — big surprise — and the two had to be separated by the coaching staff, including Piniella. Zambrano, still clearly incensed, paced around the dugout before Piniella yelled at him and told him to go home. It all must have been too much even for ill-tempered Piniella, who resigned earlier than he had announced that year.
8. Bill Parcells vs. Jeff Hostetler And Terry Glenn – NFL
Bill “The Tuna” Parcells was never one to pull punches if the opportunity arose. One of the first players to get into a brouhaha with Parcells was New York Giants back-up quarterback Jeff Hostetler. For nearly seven years, Hostetler steamed on the bench while Phil Simms took most of the reps. He was openly angry about his lack of playing time and equally mad about being told by Parcells that he would play (on more than one occasion) only to be stapled to the bench for the entire game. Hostetler would get his due under Parcells, though, winning his two starts in replacement of an injured Simms and taking the Giants all the way to the Super Bowl. Parcells, however, was not done getting his licks in on a player. In 1996, when he was coach of the New England Patriots, the team drafted receiver Terry Glenn, to Parcells objection. However, Glenn was slow to recover from a hamstring injury in camp, which prompted Parcells to mockingly call Glenn a “she.” However, Glenn became good enough to catch many passes and the two mended fences enough that Parcells could call Glenn “Miss America” after a good play.
7. Stan Van Gundy vs. Shaquille O’Neal – NBA
At one time, Miami Heat coach Stan Van Gundy and big-time center Shaquille O’Neal got along famously. In 2004, the Heat traded for the Big Aristotle, bringing him in to play alongside budding star guard Dwyane Wade. For the most part, the trio of Van Gundy, O’Neal and Wade got along famously, going all the way to the Eastern Conference finals before losing to Detroit. Nothing seemed to be remiss, that is, until Van Gundy resigned after an 11-10 start to the 2005-06 season. The contentious part of the relationship between Van Gundy and O’Neal would take years to bubble to the surface. In early 2009, when Shaq was playing with Phoenix and Van Gundy coaching Orlando, Van Gundy vehemently criticized Shaq for “flopping” during a Suns loss to the Magic. O’Neal, incensed, shot back, saying Van Gundy was a “master of panic” and that he would “let his team down” when the going got tough. Ouch.
6. Larry Brown vs. Allen Iverson – NBA
The stars didn’t quite align when old school coach Larry Brown was united with selfish, but crazy talented, point guard Allen Iverson. The latter was drafted by the Sixers in 1996 and 1997, long-time coach Brown was brought in to turn around a team that missed the playoffs in Iverson’s first year. Well, Brown, notoriously abrasive, particularly with point guards, didn’t like the fact that Iverson was undisciplined with his shots and, as was later revealed, didn’t really care about practicing. Their hot and cold relationship, that brought the two to air many heated words, was later revealed during Iverson’s acceptance speech into the Hall of Fame in 2016, where Brown was inducted in 2002. In his speech, Iverson admitted to being recalcitrant, and a certified “a-hole” to Brown, wishing he had taken the constructive criticism better. We’re sure Brown may have had a few apologies to make, too.
5. Tom Coughlin vs. Tiki Barber – NFL
Often, a lot feuds are often glossed over, to the point that they are uncovered like tainted archaeological finds years later. In 2002, New York Giants running back Tiki Barber criticized coach Tom Coughlin after a particularly heinous loss to Carolina at home. It was later revealed that Barber did so because a Panthers player told him they knew what the Giants were going to do before they did it. Years later, during his last season in 2006, Barber again attacked the staff and the coach after a brutal stretch, then announcing his impending retirement. Barber later admitted that if Coughlin wasn’t coach, he would have played longer and continued to slag his old mentor as a color commentator for Sunday Night Football. The relationship between Barber, his coach and former teammates like Eli Manning was so poison that, when he was present to cover the Giants big win in Super Bowl XLII, he was largely shunned.
4. Ron Wilson vs. Phil Kessel – NHL
Much of the “feud” between Toronto Maple Leafs former coach Ron Wilson and former sniper Phil Kessel was largely beneath the surface. Kessel was a lightning rod for criticism in Toronto for being apparently lazy and fat, despite scoring over 30 goals (on average) a season in six yeas with the Leafs. Late in the 2010-2011 season, yet another lost campaign, Wilson tried to light a fire under Kessel’s butt, demoting him to the third line. The ever-present Toronto media, always hankering for any salacious details, questioned Kessel about his relationship with Wilson, to which he answered, “Me and (the coach) don’t really talk and that’s all I got to say about that.” That erupted into a firestorm of controversy that got bombastic former GM Brian Burke all fired up and demanding a retraction from his star player, while Wilson publicly scolded Kessel for not getting his head down and not scoring. Yikes.
3. Erik Spoelstra vs. LeBron James – NBA
Hassan Whiteside, as it turns out, isn’t the first player to get on Erik Spoelstra’s bad side — and vice versa. Early in the 2010-11 season, James and young coach Spoelstra seemed to be at odds over the Heat’s ho-hum 11-10 start. A team with LBJ, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh should not have been diddling for the middle, according to James, who thought they should have been running and gunning. It was allegedly revealed by Heat minority owner Raanan Katz that LeBron, during his four seasons with Miami, he actively campaigned for Spoelstra to be pink-slipped (later denied by Katz and James). However, it was also brought to light that team president Pat Riley called James into his office and told him that no one would tell him (Riley) how to run the team. That, according to lore, was why James bolted back to Cleveland. There is a lot of hearsay, dirty double dealing and innuendo here, which leads us to believe the relationship between King James and Spoelstra was anything but amicable.
2. Billy Martin vs. Reggie Jackson – MLB
We told you earlier that the New York Yankees have been successful over the decades despite their dysfunction. The years that Billy Martin helmed the Bronx Bombers (1975-79) can only be charitably desribed as “contentious.” What with the odd machinations of meddling owner George Steinbrenner and a team full of superstars like Jackson, Sparky Lyle, Thurman Munson and Dock Ellis, the Yankees really did succeed in the face of great controversy. As for Martin and slugger Jackson, well, these two quarreled in public and likely a lot in private. Martin knew how to tweak his star player’s nose, too, once replacing him in the outfield mid-inning for apparently failing to run down a shallow pop fly. Martin, clearly agitated by his star fielder, had to be restrained — in front of a national TV audience — from getting into a scrap with Jackson. That was just one instance where Martin very publicly embarrassed his star player, with another ill-timed controversy leading to his first firing as Yankee manager.
1. Joe Torre vs. Alex Rodriguez – MLB
While Joe Torre was magnanimous in his comments about Alex Rodriguez when A-Rod retired in 2016, he wasn’t so kind in some of the stuff he said about the controversial slugger in his book “The Yankee Years”, printed in 2009. Torre didn’t rip Rodriguez for the usual — alleged PED abuse — but rather about A-Rod the person. He said that after Rodriguez came to the Yanks in 2004 that he “monopolized all the attention.” Torre was also openly critical of A-Rod’s post-season futility, citing that the big hitter wasn’t able to “concern himself with getting the job done”, instead becoming distracted with “how it looked.” A revelation in the book was that the two never clicked in Torre’s four years with the team and that as great a communicator as Torre was, the message was often lost on me-first Rodriguez. It was also alleged that Torre never admonished any of his players when they referred to Rodriguez as “A-Fraud.” That says it all about Torre vs. Rodriguez.