Over the years the question has been asked: What is Miami Heat culture? While the answer is debatable and multipronged, one player on the Heat's roster sums it up — Dion Waiters.
Waiters — based on his comments the past few weeks — is everything that can't exist if the Miami Heat, who play the Pistons in Detroit tonight at 7 p.m. EST, wants to continue claiming its exalted "culture" exists. He has to go before his selfishness blows up the entire system.
The last 36 months of Waiters' career sum up both the right side of Heat culture — the ability to get the most out of players — and the wrong side — what happens when unfit guys revert back to their old ways.
Waiters' attitude since returning from a long injury absence has proven that the Heat needs to move on from him, and soon — before things get much worse.
Following the Heat’s 124-86 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night, Waiters made clear he has no interest in being a team player. His only goal should be playing as many minutes as possible, because, well, he says so. "F—k patience!" he said after the game, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. "I want to play. I've been patient long enough. What do I
Yesterday, the Heat fined Waiters an undisclosed amount for his comments. That's not enough, though. Even Waiters has said he doesn't regret speaking out, just how he said it.
A quick Heat-Waiters timeline: The Miami Heat rescued Waiters from the scrap heap in a bargain basement deal two summers ago. Nobody wanted him then. He overestimated his worth on the open market. Then, after the Heat forced Waiters to get in the best shape of his life, he played well in the Heat's system before getting hurt and missing much of the second half of that year.
The Heat still rewarded him with a four-year, $50-million-plus deal. He missed nearly the entire first half this year.
But now, back less than a month, Waiters believes he is owed the keys to a team full of emerging young players and patient veterans that is just now gelling.
Nope — Waiters needs to sit down. He's so far down the bench his coach should be inside his home— at least until the Heat finds a taker for him. Because you can't have a "culture" with players who blatantly disregard what you claim to be about.
The Miami Heat has a serious problem — the team has too many good players. The flip side, of course, is the Heat doesn't have enough great players. But that's an insoluble issue at the moment.
In Waiters' case, the good-player problem has become a bad thing. So bad, in fact, that it needs to be resolved right away. Moving on from Waiters — regardless of the cost — is a proactive move the Heat must take. It's a classic addition by subtraction deal.
The Heat is a sub-.500 team on good days. It's time to shape the future, and unfortunately, Dion Waiters has proven he is the opposite of what that should look like. The Heat would be best served by immediately giving him the boot.