The NBA kicked Dwyane Wade where it hurts, too, suspending the Heat guard for one game for “flailing his leg and making contact with the groin” of Ramon Sessions of the Bobcats on Wednesday in Charlotte.
The one game? Eh. Wade must sit out when Miami (20-6) plays Friday at Detroit (9-22). At 34, 38 and 37 minutes the last three games, the latter two in a back-to-back, the point can be made that the rest will do him good.
Except that this has become about more than the one game. Wade “getting his Rockettes on” against Sessions was so over the line and has become part of such a growing list of regrettable moments that his reputation is suffering.
Whether Wade is wounded by comments along the lines of Boston’s Rajon Rondo calling him out for “dirty plays” is not known. But Wade should care. A suspension for appearing to purposely kick an opponent in the groin for no reason other than Sessions taking a foul opens the kind of file with the NBA no one should want.
The second-best player on a team with aspirations for a title repeat will be judged from now on through a different, harsher prism. There is a precedent. Wade, for all the good he has done in a career that will lead to the Hall of Fame, also has a history that will work against him if future incidents come up.
As Brian Windhorst chronicled on ESPN.com before the suspension had been announced:
- 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.
Many could fade into the background if they were single happenings. Some, like shoving Garnett in defense of a teammate or tossing Bibby’s shoe in a strange attempt to gain a competitive advantage, can even be seen as exactly the chippy attitude a team should want from a star. In totality, though, that is a very long list.
Commissioner David Stern has made it clear that past incidents matter when the time comes to decide on disciplines, and Wade has several. Whether or not Wade cares about his image around the league, it is why he should absolutely be concerned with the reputation in the biggest offices at NBA HQ.