|Dwyane Wade: ‘I’m not a dirty player’||05.08.11 at 2:00 am ET|
When Ray Allen gets in your face, you know you’ve done something wrong.
The NBA’s 3-point king rarely loses his cool, but once Dwyane Wade leveled him underneath the Celtics basket just 1:07 after sending Rajon Rondo to the locker room with a dislocated left elbow, Allen jumped to his feet and got into Wade’s face before being restrained by his Heat teammates.
If you’ll recall, it was Wade’s bullrushing of Paul Pierce in Game 1 that ultimately led to the Celtics captain’s ejection. Of his 10 personal fouls in the three-game series, at least three came the hard way.
“The game of basketball is a physical game,” said Wade, who has also taken 29 free throw this series, including two in Game 3 after a hard Pierce foul on a layup attempt. “I’m not not a dirty player. It’s physical. Everyone falls down, and everyone gets up.”
Thankfully, for the Celtics’ sake, Rondo did get up — triumphantly returning from what originally appeared to be a horrific arm injury in the third quarter after he got tangled up with Wade and bent his elbow back about 30 degrees in the wrong direction. The C’s point guard recorded four of his six points and one of his 11 assists while playing the entire fourth quarter of Saturday night’s 97-81 victory with essentially one arm.
“We play this game as competitors, and you never want to see anyone get hurt, whether it’s a friend or not a friend,” added Wade. “It’s someone we have respect for in this game. We have respect for each other. So, you never want to see anyone get hurt, no matter what kind of injury it is. Kudos to him for coming back. That’s a tough injury to come back from that fast. He showed a lot as a leader of the team, coming back and having the performance that he had with that injury.”
Whether or not Rondo falls into that friend category — and from the sound of it, he doesn’t — the Heat want to see Rondo in uniform for Game 4 on Monday night.
“We’re just glad that he was able to come back from it,” said Wade. “Even though people say that without Rondo they’d be a different team, we don’t want that. We want the Boston Celtics to be whole, so hopefully on Monday he’s there and ready to go.”
Rondo himself appeared fairly confident that he would return for Game 4 after what should be “a lot of treatment” on Monday. “I’m not concerned,” he said.
Added Heat superstar LeBron James. “You definitely don’t want to see anyone have a freak injury. As competitive as we all are, us against Boston, we all don’t want to see anything like that happen. So, on the injury, we hope the best for him, and hopefully it’s not as bad as it looked on the floor.”
Oh, it looked bad. And the original diagnosis was far worse. Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte and coach Doc Rivers were under the impression that Rondo was “out, basically for good” following the elbow injury, until Rondo got team Dr. Brian McKeon‘s blessing to join the huddle. So, he did, and with him the Celtics had hope again.
“I’m not going to go through the list of injuries that y’all aren’t even aware of,” said C’s teammate Kevin Garnett. “I’m just not going to put them out there like that, but I’ve seen him play through some horrific injuries, and all of us sort of look at each other and say, ‘What is he doing out here, and is he being smart right now?’ When he came in, I just said, ‘This is typical Rondo.’ Shorty’s a really tough individual. I don’t know what he’s going to be like when he’s 35, but right now he’s playing through a lot. He’s showing a lot of heart and a lot of grit. We see it. It doesn’t go unspoken or unseen. We see that he’s out here giving a full effort, so we’re following that lead.”
Perhaps it’s that brotherhood that caused Allen to react so uncharacteristically towards Wade. Whatever it was, the message was clear: The Celtics, with Rondo leading the way, aren’t going down without a fight.
As Wade said of Rondo in the locker room following the game, his own knees wrapped in ice, “He’s a tough motherf@$%er, but he’s going to be sore tomorrow.”