"The game of basketball is a physical game. I'm not not a dirty player. It's physical. Everyone falls down, and everyone gets up."
That's what Miami's Dwyane Wade had to say back in May of 2011 after this happened:
Note how, after Wade and Rajon Rondo got tangled up, Wade swept Rondo's leg and pulled him down, resulting in a pretty serious dislocation of Rondo's elbow. You can argue about whether Wade is a dirty player -- and I will below -- but you can't say that wasn't a dirty play.
Flash forward to last night when this happened:
According to today's rules, that was indeed a flagrant foul, even if the call made Bill Laimbeer throw up in his own mouth. Dirty? Eh...not really.
Unless you're Dwyane Wade.
Said Wade: "I got my kids watching so I stopped myself, but it was a punk play by him. He clotheslined me. ... I'm here to play basketball, man. If you want to do something else, then go do something else. Boxing, this is not it. I was glad I was able to stop myself in that very moment and move on from it. We'll see next time we play."
Ah, a heathy dose of righteous indignation and a subtle threat about possible revenge in the next Celtics-Heat game. Way to take the high road, Mr. Wade.
Was that a "punk play"? Busting somebody's face during an exhibition game? The best part was Wade's response afterward.
Said Wade: "Obviously I didn't try to draw no blood...but I took a foul. Kobe had fouled me twice in a row right before that."
Ah. So Kobe deserved what he got. Cause, you know, he fouled Wade twice in a row before that.
Wade expanded on his explanation: "Unfortunate that happened to him, but that's all I could do. He knows it's no ill intent on me to do that. Did I take a foul? Yes, I took a foul. So, talk about me for taking a foul. But I never wanted that kind of outcome."
You could probably say the same about Rondo's foul last night.
Going on, let's not forget how Wade threw Chicago's Rip Hamilton out of bounds last season:
And do you remember the reckless flagrant he committed against Darren Collison during last year's playoff series against the Pacers?
Even TNT's Steve Kerr was disturbed by this one: "I think Joey Crawford is going to call a flagrant foul on Dwyane Wade and I think it's deserved. He just looked like a free safety lining up a receiver here... Look at this. Wade just tees off on Collison."
I should also point out, earlier in the playoffs, New York's Mike Bibby lost his shoe during play...and Wade picked it up and tossed it off the court:
First, the sheer lack of guilt or remorse after Wade's various thuggings. I play plenty of pickup basketball and I've delivered my share of hard fouls. But when I bowl somebody over, I apologize and pick them up. It's a little thing called human decency. Wade doesn't seem to have that gene.
Second, how can Wade commit these fouls, insist he isn't a dirty player, and then call Rondo out for what was a pretty mild (but correctly called) flagrant? And then he congratulated himself for not reacting? Should Rondo have given himself a pat on the back for not attacking Wade for mangling his elbow?
Now Dime Magazine and ESPN are running pieces asking if Rondo is a dirty player.
Shouldn't we be asking this about Wade?