|Who’s a dirtier player: Rajon Rondo or Dwyane Wade?||11.01.12 at 4:27 pm ET|
If it’s possible, Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade are fanning the flames of the Celtics-Heat rivalry even higher.
After Rondo wrapped his left arm around Wade’s collar in the waning seconds of a game already in Miami’s hand on Tuesday night, the Heat guard called his Boston counterpoint out for what he interpreted as “a punk play.”
“I got my kids watching so I stopped myself but it was a punk play by him,” said Wade. “He clotheslined me.”
He added: “I’m here to play basketball. 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.”
After C’s practice on Thursday, Rondo responded, recalling a certain play in Game 3 of the 2011 Eastern Conference semifinals, when Wade pulled him to the floor and dislocated his elbow.
“I don’t think it was a hard foul,” said Rondo, referring to Tuesday’s flagrant-1 on Wade. “He sold it a little bit, and that’s basketball. They were up, he drove to the hole and I didn’t want to give up a layup. Simple as that. I didn’t yank him down or dirty plays that you’ve seen him play in the past, so that’s what it is.”
Wade didn’t get whistled for a flagrant on Rondo two seasons ago, but that’s a different argument about superstar calls and whether the Celtics point guard fits that bill among NBA officials. As for which play was dirtier, it’s simple: Wade walked to the free throw line unharmed; Rondo walked off the floor clutching his arm in excruciating pain.
Of course, Rondo isn’t without his faults. There’s the time last season he tossed a ball at a referee to earn a two-game suspension. And then there’s the time he chest-bumped an official for a one-game suspension in the first round of last year’s playoffs. (Sensing a theme here. Maybe there’s a reason Rondo doesn’t get superstar calls.)
But for anyone who thinks Rondo only takes out his frustration on refs, Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich might see it differently, since Rondo tossed him into the scorer’s table during the 2009 NBA playoffs.
Still, none of Rondo’s transgressions come close to Wade’s worst. He too has thrown things (i.e., Mike Bibby’s shoe) and tossed opponents to the ground (see: Hamilton, Rip). Wade also body-checked then-Pacers guard Darren Collison into the front row. As Steve Kerr described it, “He just looked like a free safety lining up a receiver.”
But here’s the worst, even if some Boston fans might call it the best: On a two-handed rake across the shoulders and face Wade broke Kobe Bryant’s nose in an All-Star Game. Let’s repeat that: In an All-Star Game. Not ask yourself who’s the dirtier player.
Between the two, anything is in play when the Celtics and Heat meet next on Jan. 27. Clotheslines, flying forearm smashes, testicular claws. Anything. Somehow, Rondo and Wade threw two more logs on this rivalry’s fire.