Whitey Herzog is one of the all-time great managers in baseball history. Based on his success with the St. Louis Cardinals, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
He was a master manipulator, but realized his players were even more responsible for his success. When his closer, Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter, left St. Louis in 1984, Herzog assessed the situation.
“I just got 25 games dumber,” he quipped.
Erik Spoelstra might be in the same position very soon. The Miami Heat coach, winner of two NBA titles, is on the verge of a contract extension.
That’s the good news for him.
Like Herzog, Spoelstra is fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach future Hall of Famers like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade during his successful stint on South Beach.
It has been reported that contract talks between Wade and the Heat are not going well. He is apparently preparing to go onto the free agent market.
That’s the bad news for Spoelstra. As smart as he is, the coach would likely become several games dumber without D-Wade.
It is almost inconceivable to see the Heat as a contender without the presence of Wade on the court and in the locker room. The departure of James lowered Miami from a great team to a good team. No Wade could likely mean no playoffs.
Did we mention the recurring health concerns of Chris Bosh?
This year’s saga with Wade represents Deja’ vu all over again. Things got a bit Heated – pun fully intended – last year before he signed the one-year deal for $20 million.
Our friends in Britain would call Miami’s plot a bit of sticky wicket. Wade was healthier this past season than at any time over the past five years. He often looked like the Wade version pre-LeBron and Bosh.
On the other hand, does Miami want to shell out big bucks within a long-term contract on a player that will turn 35 at mid-season? It might be worth it if they would get even two years of the 2016 version of Wade. Apparently, Miami seems unwilling to roll the dice.
The situation will play out in the coming weeks. NBA free agency begins Friday.
Spoelstra can look at one other comparison with Herzog for encouragement. The first season without Sutter saw Herzog and St. Louis pick up the pieces and win the National League pennant.
At the same time, Miami may not want to count on a repeat of that.