Miami Heat captains Goran Dragic, James Johnson and Udonis Haslem counseled Hassan Whiteside and addressed his level of effort after the star center was benched for nearly the entire second half of Monday's loss to the Golden State Warriors.
Whiteside played just 16 minutes in the 97-80 loss and was pulled 73 seconds into the second half after Golden State's Zaza Pachulia made an uncontested layup while Whiteside was arguing with an official.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra referred to the move as a "coach's decision," but Miami's three captains discussed the situation concerning Whiteside after the game with reporters.
"Sometimes you just don't have it," Dragic said, according to the Miami Herald. "[Whiteside] admitted, 'Hey guys, I let you down.' Look, we're here to help him. He's on our team. He's our player. We love him and this is the only thing that matters."
Spoelstra said that the benching is "nothing bigger, more than that -- this is one game."
"He understands how important he is to our ballclub, to play at high level, high-energy level," Spoelstra said. "And so we'll move on."
Whiteside did not sound as if he agreed with Spoelstra and said he did not know how much he will play Wednesday in Miami's next game against the Phoenix Suns.
"I guess [Spoelstra] thought it was better if I didn't come back in," Whiteside said. "I don't know. I really don't know."
Johnson thinks Whiteside was receptive to the captains' discussion with him, saying "he gets it."
"Minutes is earned, man. Minutes is earned on this team," Johnson said, according to the Herald. "We had our talk as we should as a team, and as the three captains that we are. And he gets it. I know he gets it.
"He's the most athletic guy I know. He's the heart of our team, and he's also the best big man in the league to me."
The 7-foot Whiteside was coming off a 21-point, 17-rebound performance in Sunday's victory over the LA Clippers. Haslem said that he has preached mental toughness to Whiteside and the younger players on the Heat, especially when they have to play on the second night of back-to-backs.
"On the second night of a back-to-back, man, sometimes your body is not going to have it," Haslem said. "That's when you got to have it with your mind. I preach to these guys 48 minutes of mentally stable basketball and not be mental midgets. That's just something we got to continue to work on."
Whiteside, 28, is in the second year of a four-year, $98 million deal with the Heat and was the NBA's leading rebounder last season.
"I mean it's tough. He's our main player," Dragic said. "He's protecting the paint. He's getting offensive rebounds, blocked shots. ... We have full confidence Hassan is going to be back and he's going to be his old self again."
Added Haslem: "We're not disappointed, man. It's not supposed to be easy. None of this is supposed to be easy. ... [Whiteside] is still learning, he's still growing, he's still understanding what we expect from him. Every night you're not going to have it in this league. So what we just need from Hassan is his energy. We feed off that and he's our best player. We're going to live and die with him."