Thursday, December 27, 2012
Is Dwyane Wade a dirty player?
By Brian Windhorst
Dwyane Wade has two championship rings, an Olympic gold medal, a Finals MVP award, eight All-Star appearances, a portfolio of endorsement deals from Switzerland to China, an acclaimed book on fatherhood, a renowned fashion sense and the adulation of millions of NBA fans across the world.
But his reputation within the league itself may not be in such good shape.
A series of questionable plays over the past two years seem to have harmed Wade’s stature among his peers. Some, such as well-known adversary Rajon Rondo, said Wade is guilty of “dirty plays.”
The latest is Charlotte Bobcats guard Ramon Sessions. Wade kicked Sessions in the groin area after Sessions committed a reach-in foul on Wade during the Miami Heat’s 105-92 win Wednesday night. Wade claimed it was inadvertent.
“I thought he did it on purpose,” Sessions told reporters after the game.
Standing alone, this is just another testy moment in a game that was tight at the time. But looking at Wade’s actions over the past few seasons, it is part of a case file that is building and increasingly getting him unsavory attention.
Here are the most memorable incidents:
• During a game in Boston in the 2011 regular season, Wade was hit with a flagrant foul for shoving Kevin Garnett after Garnett had leveled Mike Miller with a screen.
• In the 2011 playoffs, Wade got wrapped up with Rondo while going for a loose ball. After Rondo elbowed Wade, he appeared to stick his leg out and sweep Rondo to the court. It resulted in Rondo dislocating his elbow. At the time, Wade said it was inadvertent.
• Wade broke Kobe Bryant’s nose, raking him from behind during an unusual physical play during the 2012 All-Star Game. Bryant had fouled Wade twice previously in the game.
• During a regular-season game last April in Miami, Wade threw a forearm at Chicago Bulls guard Rip Hamilton after Hamilton bumped him trying to create space on the perimeter. Wade was called for a flagrant foul.
• During the first round of the playoffs last season, Wade threw the shoe of New York Knicks guard Mike Bibby off the court after Bibby lost it getting a rebound.
• During the second round of the playoffs, Wade blindsided Indiana Pacers guard Darren Collison on a fast break. Wade, who seemed to be reacting to not getting a shooting foul moments earlier, was assessed a flagrant foul.
Often, it has seemed Wade is caught reacting. A hard Garnett screen, a Rondo elbow, a foul or, in many cases, frustration at officials. Wade is an emotional player, and at times those emotions may push him over the line.
During a playoff game last May in Indianapolis, for example, Wade got into a heated exchange with coach Erik Spoelstra on the bench during a timeout after Spoelstra questioned Wade’s play.
In a recent interview with ESPN’s Israel Gutierrez about his recovery from knee surgery, Wade talked about how anger can help his lift during a game.
“Even though I might not get as high as I did when I was a rookie, I can still get over the rim when need be -- especially when I get angry,” Wade said.
Especially over the past few seasons, Wade’s anger has often been manifested in bouts with officials. He has become one of the league’s most constant complainers. Wade has occasionally been guilty of not getting back on defense because he’s allowed himself to be delayed to complain about non-calls. On Christmas Day, as he was on his way to the locker room to get treatment after a minor leg injury, Wade stopped to complain to officials about not drawing a foul on the previous play.
Like with the questionable fouls, Wade often stops short of being aggressive enough to draw discipline.
All of this is unbecoming of Wade’s stature in the game. He did not behave like this during the early years of his career as he soared in popularity and earned the respect of the league. As he’s become a veteran, his personality has appeared to change somewhat on the floor.
In that way, he has been compared by some league executives to Garnett, whose trash-talking and menacing have come to define the later stages of his career. This is not endearing to Garnett, though he’s never seemed to care whatsoever.
That is not the case for Wade, who has always valued his reputation as someone who sets an example. The one he’s been setting with this spate of incidents is not fashionable at all.