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Heat part-owner: LeBron wanted Spoelstra fired in Miami

REUTERS/Mike Stone

Attempts to paint LeBron James as a coach-killer in the wake of the Cleveland Cavaliers' dismissal of David Blatt continued Tuesday when a minority owner of the Miami Heat said James frequently tried to get Erik Spoelstra fired during his tenure in South Florida.

"LeBron James - before and after his four seasons when his contract was up with the team - made it clear that he wanted to dump head coach Erik Spoelstra," Heat limited partner Raanan Katz told Israeli radio station 102FM while appearing on a panel with Bleacher Report's David Pick. "At one point, (Heat president) Pat Riley called LeBron into his office said that no one will tell him how to run the organization. Riley told James that Spoelstra is his guy, and that firing Spoelstra is out of the question.

"That was the main reason LeBron returned to Cleveland."

Spoelstra and James won two NBA titles, and reached The Finals in all four seasons they were together. There were rumors of disagreements very early on in James' Heat tenure, but they faded into the background once the team began winning regularly.

Katz also lambasted James for his actions in June 2014, when he publicly encouraged the Heat to draft that spring's March Madness hero Shabazz Napier - two weeks before he signed with the Cavaliers as a free agent.

"LeBron screwed us badly," Katz said. "We made the wrong decisions because of LeBron James - he told us to draft a point guard (Napier) who didn't meet the expectations, but we chose him because that's what LeBron wanted."

Katz, an Israeli-American businessman, is a minority holder in the Heat's hierarchy below majority owner Micky Arison. He stopped short of saying that James got Blatt fired in Cleveland, but said he sensed problems between the two.

"I spoke to David Blatt while he was here in Miami when the Heat played the Cavaliers," Katz said. "He didn't see it coming, but I could tell the situation wasn't 100 percent working. I thought LeBron James had enough brains to make it work, though."

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