D-Wade: Dirtiest NBA Player? Let's Debate!

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Dwyane Wade has developed a reputation as a dirty player, a perception that magnified during this Heat-Pacers series. (Michael Conroy/AP)
Dwyane Wade has developed a reputation as a dirty player, a perception that magnified during this Heat-Pacers series. (Michael Conroy/AP)

This week Gregg Doyel of announced that Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat is the dirtiest player in the NBA. And Shaun Powell of Sports On Earth announced that Gregg Doyel is full of beans and bananas. Sounds like cause for a friendly, NPR style debate.  Bill Littlefield moderates:

BL: Gregg, I invite you to lead off. Make your case that Dwyane Wade is the dirtiest player in the NBA.

GD: Look, in the last 24 months, in the last 24 months, Dwyane Wade has broken Rajon Rondo's elbow, broken Kobe Bryant's nose, kicked Ramon Sessions in the groin and been suspended, run over Darren Collison, and he’s also hit Lance Stephenson in the head with an elbow. Five acts of violence in 24 months. So find me someone’s who’s done more in 24 months and I’ll say that guys dirtier than Dwyane Wade. I stand by my guy.

BL: Shaun, as I understand it, you're willing to acknowledge that Dwyane Wade is no angel. You just think there are at least five dirtier players currently employed in the NBA, right?

SP: Yes, I do, and I think it depends how you want to define dirty player. Are you going to define dirty player based on a recent act or are you going to look at the person’s entire body of work? I think going into the stands and starting the bloodiest NBA brawl in history with amazingly long suspensions, and then clocking James Harden in the temple, for no reason by the way and almost knocking him out and endangering his career.  I think Metta World Peace takes this pretty much in a run away.

BL: Gregg, come on, even you have to acknowledge that it's great fun to tag a guy named Metta World Peace with the designation of league's dirtiest player.

GD: Well, for body of work it might be Kevin Garnett. But we’re not talking about body of work; we’re talking about right now. If the league was regular season and they’re all playing, what player is most likely to break another guy’s bone? It’s Dwyane Wade. But I’ll give you this Shaun; it’s a tossup between Dwayne Wade and Metta World Peace for the dirtiest player in the NBA.

BL:  You mention flopping – that is, pretending to have been fouled when it hasn't happened – as one of Wade's transgressions. But he's hardly got a monopoly on that, or the NBA wouldn't have had to create a rule against it, right?

GD: No, that’s true, that’s true. Look, Dwyane Wade flops worse than anybody else. Everybody does it, he does it worse than everybody else.

BL: Shaun, having heard Gregg's arguments, are you willing to at least adjust your list a little or is Wade still no worse than #6 on the list of dirtiest players as far as you're concerned.

SP: First of all, I think Gregg has put Dwyane Wade on blast and I think for good reason.  For everything that Gregg just mentioned, I think Dwyane Wade deserves mention.  I think also we have to define what exactly is dirty. I think people would agree that Kevin Garnett is a dirty player, but the filth is coming out of his mouth not his elbows.  This is a guy who pretty much every year does something to get under someone’s skin.  So if we're just talking about dirty as in potty mouth too, you gotta give Garnett a lot a lot of credit right there.

BL:  Shaun, we've been talking about current players. Let's look for context here. Past NBA players: Bruce Bowen? Reggie Miller? Charles Oakley? Bill Laimbeer? Rick Mahorn? Jeff Ruland? I think they were known as McFilthy and McNasty. What about those guys?

SP: I think the Pistons are probably the gold standard, the Bad Boys.  Number one, the fact that they were nicknamed bad boys pretty much takes it right there. Mahorn and Laimbeer, McFilthy/McNasty, I think Johnny Most, the former Celtics broadcaster, gave them that nickname, well-deserved by the way.   The bottom line is you went to the rim at your own risk. And those guys were able to pretty much put you in your place, which was really on the floor.  It was also a different time in the NBA, where the league allowed certain contact, particularly in the playoffs.  The league basically looked the other way and brushed it off as just playoff basketball.I think you can remember  Kevin McHale, who really isn’t a dirty player, clotheslining Kurt Rambis in one of those Celtics-Lakers series. A lot of players who weren’t normally “dirty players” they just kind of fell into the spirit of game then.  I think the league by and large back then in the 80’s and 90’s was filled with dirty players.

BL: Having had this brief history lesson, Gregg, are you really ready at this point to back off, or are you still coming down on Dwyane Wade?

GD: Wade is not the dirtiest player of all time he’s just the dirtiest active player. I think Isaiah Thomas has his feelings hurt we mentioned 10-12 dirty players, half of them to the pistons and his name hadn’t come up yet. Holy cow. I would say this; outside of Isaiah Thomas, Wade might be the greatest dirty player of all time.  There's never been a player as good as him be this dirty. How about that?

This segment aired on June 1, 2013.


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