Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade gaining reputation as “dirty” player

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Last year during the NBA All-Star Game — and exhibition where matador defense is played — Dwyane Wade broke Kobe Bryant’s nose with the kind of hard foul reserved for the playoffs.

Then during the playoffs, in the first round against the Knicks, Mike Bibby lost a show and Wade took it and threw it off the court. Or there was the time during last year’s playoffs when a frustrated Wade blindsided Indiana’s Darren Collison and picked up a flagrant foul.

The list of cheap little plays by Dwyane Wade is becoming a long one. Remember it was him fighting for a loose ball that knocked Rajon Rondo too the ground and dislocated his elbow in the 2011 playoffs.

Then on Wednesday, Wade threw his leg out trying to pick up a foul on Ramon Sessions and kicked the Bobcats guard right in the groin. The league has suspended Wade for a game for that one.

That list above is just part of a pattern, one leading to a growing reputation around the league that Wade is a dirty player. Something that Brian Windhorst talked about at ESPN.com.

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.”…

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….

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.

Wade is one of a small group of players who can play better when angry (most players think they can but really just become less focused and make mistakes). He seems to work himself into that state more and more of late, and while it can lead to nights of big plays there is a corollary of arguing with officials and cheap plays.

Wade’s foul on Sessions is just the latest and in some ways most public of those plays. But at this point I don’t think it changes who Wade is on the court. He is who he is, and that personality has led him to be one of the best perimeter players in the game and a two-time NBA champion.

But his reputation among players has become more than just that.

Russell Westbrook says he will not kneel for national anthem “as of right now”

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook spins the ball as he poses for photos during the 2016-2017 Oklahoma City Thunder Media Day in Oklahoma City, Friday, Sept. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
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Without question, some kneeling/raised fist protests of the National Anthem are coming to the NBA once preseason games start in a couple of weeks. Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers has already come out saying “there’s no more American thing to do than to protest.” Teams are discussing the need for social change.

While the NBA has a rule that players must stand for the anthem, the NBA and players’ union are already discussing exactly how and if that rule should be enforced.

While some players will kneel, Russell Westbrook will not be among them. Probably. Here’s is what he told Fred Katz of the Norman Transcript.

Obviously, Westbrook is leaving himself some wiggle room here. Also, if there is one NBA star you can expect to be blunt about the situation when talking to the media, it’s Westbrook (when he feels like opening up to the media, anyway).

I expect few if any of the NBA’s top stars — the guys with the biggest international brands — will join the protests. However, there certainly will be players taking part. For a league that sees itself as progressive — and has a more politically progressive fan base compared to other American sports — how the league handles this will be watched.

Timberwolves coach and president Tom Thibodeau thanks Kevin Garnett after retirement announcement

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 28: Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics sits not he bench prior to Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the New York Knicks on April 28, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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Tributes have poured in all over the NBA world since Kevin Garnett announced his retirement on Friday afternoon — from other players, commissioner Adam Silver and media members who covered him. Garnett and Tom Thibodeau have a lengthy history together: Thibodeau coached Garnett in Boston as an assistant under Doc Rivers, and they won a championship in 2008. This spring, Thibodeau took over as head coach and president of basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team that drafted Garnett, saw his best years and saw him end his career. Thibodeau released a heartfelt statement on Saturday congratulating Garnett:

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank Kevin for all of his great accomplishments and contributions to the NBA, the Minnesota Timberwolves organization, and for me personally with the Boston Celtics. Kevin combined great talent with a relentless drive and intelligence. I will always cherish the memories of the way in which he led the Celtics to the 2008 NBA Championship. His willingness to sacrifice and his unselfishness led us to that title. Kevin will always be remembered for the way in which he played the game. His fierce competitiveness, his unequalled passion for the game, and the many ways in which he cared about this team was truly special. KG is without question the all-time best player to wear a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey, and he is also one of the best to ever play this game.”

It’s a shame that Thibodeau didn’t get to coach Garnett again in Minnesota, but the team is in good hands with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.

Pacers unveil 50th anniversary patch for their uniforms (PHOTO)

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 28:  Leandro Barbosa #28 of the Indiana Pacers looks on against the New Jersey Nets at Prudential Center on March 28, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
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The Indiana Pacers have been a franchise for 50 years — 10 in the ABA and 40 in the NBA. To celebrate this anniversary, they’ve unveiled a new patch that they will wear on their uniforms this season. You can check it out below:

It looks pretty sleek, combining the Pacers’ logo with the zero in “50.” It’s subtle and well-designed.

Kobe Bryant pays tribute to Kevin Garnett on Twitter

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 12:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers puts a shot up over Kevin Garnett #5 and Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the 2008 NBA Finals on June 12, 2008 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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This summer, three of this generation’s defining NBA players, and three of the greatest players of all time, called it a career: Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. The latter two in particular had a lot in common, as psychotic competitors and polarizing personalities. They had many memorable battles over the years, including the Lakers-Celtics Finals in 2008 and 2010 (they each won one) and the playoffs in 2003 and 2004, when Garnett was in Minnesota. On Saturday afternoon, a day after Garnett officially announced his retirement, Kobe paid tribute to him with a tweet.

The next time they’ll be together is 2021, when they go into the Hall of Fame together.