INDIANAPOLIS — If a certain Heat All-Star blew a layup near the end of a playoff game, violently shoved a defender in same game, then followed up two nights later missing a ton of shots and angrily cursed his coach, would he be due for a public grilling, you think?
LeBron James? Yeah. Of course.
So it’ll be interesting to see the double-standard reaction toward Dwyane Wade, the more Teflon member of Miami’s Big Three, who is self-destructing before our very eyes.
Make no mistake, the Heat trail the Pacers 2-1 in the East semifinals partly because of Chris Bosh‘s abdomen strain. But what about Wade’s brain strain? Taking into account how sloppy he finished up in the Game 2 loss, then how he cracked in Game 3, scoring just five points, this has been unquestionably the worst two-game stretch of his otherwise blessed and non-controversial professional life.
He has behaved like a bum (which is different than calling him a bum, so calm down) and played like a bum (ditto). If his name was LeBron, you’d be killing him right now. His current collapse is almost as bad as LeBron’s fourth quarters last summer.
What transpired with Wade in the 94-75 loss Thursday raises two serious questions:
Is he healthy?
Was he wrong to lash out at Erik Spoelstra, yelling “get out of my (bleeping) face” during a third quarter timeout?
In full view of a sellout crowd and the intrusive cameras, Wade went full-blast on Spoelstra (who didn’t answer) and had to be pulled away from the coach and muzzled, first by Udonis Haslem, then Juwan Howard. It was a quick exchange but also a nasty one, which obviously will raise the issue of Spoelstra and job security, especially if Miami loses this series.
Wade, after the game: “I don’t even remember what y’all talking about.”
Spoelstra, downplayed it, taking the “You have no idea how often things like that happen” route, before calling it “irrelevant.”
He added: “Guys say something you don’t like and you move on. Dwyane and I have been together a long time. We’ve been through everything. That’s nothing.”
As for the health question, it was downplayed by eveyone except Haslem, who confessed: “He’s a little banged up.”
Wade missed 11 of his 13 shots and looked completely lost. He had five turnovers, once stepping out of bounds, once dribbling the ball off his foot. Danny Granger blasted a 3-pointer in his mug. In a word, Wade was horrible.
“Offensively I knew I didn’t have it so I wasn’t going to force a lot of shots,” he said. “We’re not going to win a lot of ballgames with Chris Bosh out and me scoring five points, so it’s on me.”
If the last 48 hours have been difficult for Wade, the next 48 will be excruciating. Basically, he can’t do anything to make amends until Sunday. And during the two-day wait, his ugly performance, both on the court and the bench, will go through the media ringer. It will get worse for Wade before it gets better.
A bad five quarters, including the fourth in Game 2, and a testy exchange with his coach will bang between Wade’s eardrums until Game 4. And then we’ll see if it was just a lapse for him, or a way of life in a series that’s getting out of hand for the Heat.
“It’s obvious he wasn’t himself,” said LeBron.
Well, that better change. Or during the forthcoming backlash, Wade won’t feel like himself. He’ll feel like LeBron.