Heat know they’ll be scrutinized all season

By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Sports Writer

MIAMI (AP) — Now 10 games into the season, there are two undeniable truths about the Heat: People are listening to everything they say, and people are dissecting everything they say.

“I didn’t know there were so many opinionated people,” forward Chris Bosh said.

That’s a lesson he and the rest of the Heat are apparently learning on the fly this season.

Forget the buzz generated by the blockbuster summer that brought Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to Miami. Just in the past week, a slew of things — all of which had very little to do with X’s and O’s — got analyzed in ways that even some Heat players couldn’t understand.

A rift between James and Erik Spoelstra?

A shot at Canadian cable television systems?

A precursor to an imminent coaching change?

All part of the week that was for Miami, story lines that took off in ways that the Heat found both amusing and frustrating.

“All of us understand how this team is being perceived,” Spoelstra said. “I’d be totally naive if I didn’t know what was going on out there. I think it’s been good for our group. I don’t sense that it’s been a distraction at all. I really think it has brought us closer. We’ve had a tighter focus and commitment. At times in the locker room, I hear guys kind of joke around about all the swirl that’s around.”

Count Spoelstra, the third-year Heat coach, among those who are joking about it all.

The Heat might consider that a good sign, considering his job security was front-and-center on the week’s radar.

When television cameras captured Heat president Pat Riley folding some handwritten notes into his jacket pocket during the fourth quarter of Miami’s loss to Boston on Thursday night, rumor mills went into overdrive. Riley became a Twitter trending topic, amid plenty of anonymous speculation that he would soon replace Spoelstra as coach.

And when James said after that game that him playing “44 minutes is too much,” the immediate perception from that constant microscope was that he and Spoelstra were at odds.

Not true, insisted James, who spent part of Friday and Saturday clarifying what he meant.

James and Spoelstra acknowledged that the plan for the Celtics game wasn’t for him to play 44 minutes, especially as he recovers from a shin injury. But the way that game played out forced Spoelstra into keeping the two-time reigning MVP on the floor more than he wanted.

It was that simple, and James accepted and understood the explanation.

“I kind of understand sometimes what Randy Moss was talking about when he said, ‘I will not be answering any more questions,'” James said. “Because every time I say something, it gets turned out of character.”

Bosh has found that to be the case more than once since he left Toronto for Miami.

The most recent example came Thursday when the All-Star forward revealed that he can follow the Raptors because “I have the package now,” referring to the NBA League Pass that allows cable subscribers to see games outside their local market.

For the record, League Pass is available in Canada.

“It was impossible for me because of my building,” Bosh said. “I didn’t have the good cable.”

The reaction in headline form, as it appeared on the Toronto Star website: “Another bogus Bosh beef about Canada.”

True, he scorned the nation’s basketball core by leaving Canada’s lone NBA team for a chance to play with Wade and James, and that rift hasn’t healed. Two days after “Cablegate,” Bosh was asked if he’s regretted any part of deciding to leave the Raptors for the Heat.

The answer came quickly, and it had nothing to do with how he’s faring on the court.

“Me having to call Toronto every month to be like, ‘No, that didn’t happen. I didn’t say that. I didn’t mean that,'” Bosh said. “That’s kind of frustrating at times, because at no time do I want to be made an enemy of every sort. If you move on and make a business decision, you move on.”

James talks regularly about how his relationship with Spoelstra is growing, and has even taken to sending him text messages with ideas — and sometimes support — after games. And the notion Riley is lurking to replace Spoelstra is one the Heat try to shrug off, especially after the Hall of Famer took over when Stan Van Gundy stepped down in December 2005.

“We’re 6-4 because we haven’t executed the game plan,” Wade said. “Not because of our coaching staff. They have done an unbelievable job. The perception out there is perception. And that’s all it is.”

Received 11/14/10 10:49 am ET