PHOENIX -- Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had heard all about it by the time his team was done practicing Thursday, the comments from former Heat guard Ray Allen criticizing the team's end of its Big Three era.
"I actually bumped into him about six, I don't know, weeks ago. I was walking my dog across an intersection in Coconut Grove. He didn't run me over," Spoelstra said amid laughter. "He had an opportunity to. I appreciated that."
No, this was not a subject that Spoelstra expected to be addressing more than three years after the demise of the Heat championship roster of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
But a week after Wade compared his final season alongside James and Bosh with the Heat to a "bad marriage," Allen seconded that notion, casting additional question upon the team's approach to 2013-14.
Allen, who retired after playing for the Heat that season and has continued to live in South Florida, addressed the topic while promoting his new book, "From the Outside: My Journey Through Life and the Game I Love."
Asked about Wade's take on the Heat's rough ride to their fourth consecutive NBA Finals, Allen told Sports Illustrated that 2013-14 proved to be a taxing, draining ride.
"It certainly was tough on all of us as players," Allen said of the Heat's failed bid for a third consecutive championship. "Organizationally, I don't think they ever adjusted. Most of the guys, having gone to so many Finals, me being an older player, having played a lot of basketball the last five, six years, organizationally and coaching wise they didn't adjust.
"We had the oldest team in the NBA, and on top of that, we had such a bad schedule. Every holiday we were away from home. Every situation we were in we were fighting to just stay above board, trying to figure out how to sleep or rest our bodies. We wore down, we were tired, and we were definitely tired at the end. We still were good, and we still made it to the Finals."
Allen stepped away from the Heat after that season because of the team's turn toward youth in the wake of James' July 2014 free-agency decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
But there apparently were simmering frustrations with the approach of Spoelstra, Heat President Pat Riley and an organization that prides itself on Heat Culture.
"With a team as old as we were, and with as much basketball as we'd played, we were still doing a million appearances, we still were having all the practices, and doing all the things that typically wear you down by the end of the year. Just being on your feet so much.
"The team didn't learn how to manage our bodies better. When your players have played in June the last three or four years, by this time you have to figure out how get people off their feet. We don't need to have a practice. We don't need to have a shootaround. We just have to be mental. From those aspects, you wear yourself down long term."
Spoelstra said he prefers to carry forward other memories, namely of Allen's game-tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals that allowed the Heat to win their second consecutive Big Three championship.
"I love Ray," Spoelstra said. "I walk by his picture every day and tap it, of just an acknowledgment of how special that time was and how it's one of the iconic, all-time iconic shots in NBA history. So I love him.
"If we didn't win three in a row, I think we should be open to criticism. It's tough, it's tough to win in this league multiple years, going four years in a row. I tip my hat off to teams that have been able to win three in a row. But I love Ray."
Wade made his "bad marriage" comments last week to Cleveland media amid the Cavaliers' uneven start to the season. Wade is the latest player from the Heat's championship teams to join James in Cleveland, following Mike Miller, James Jones and Chris Andersen.
Of that 2013-14 experience, Wade said, "As a team, we were kind of like this. It was worse because it wasn't new guys. It was guys who had been around each other four years in a row. Your jokes weren't funny anymore to other guys. When you walked in, it wasn't a big smile no more. Guys were just over you. It's like being in a bad marriage. But we somehow made it to the Finals."
Spoelstra said he did not sense any lingering disappointment as he spoke to Allen.
"We actually stopped traffic. We chatted for a while in the intersection. He looks great," Spoelstra said. "We support his new venture, we order lunch from his restaurant, weekly, all the time. So, I will forever be grateful to Ray."
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