Rajon Rondo is not about to forgive Dwyane Wade for some of
the physical plays the Heat guard has leveled on him over the past two years.
That was clear from his comments after practice Thursday, when the Celtics
point guard was asked about his flagrant foul on Wade late in Tuesday’s season
opener in Miami.
When the topic of the flagrant and the technical foul he
picked up earlier in the fourth quarter came up, it was noted that Rondo has
also taken some hard hits in the recent history of the rivalry.
“Tell me about it,” he said.
Wade took exception to the flagrant foul, which was called
after Rondo corralled Wade around the shoulders as the Heat guard drove to the
basket with 16 seconds left in the game. Wade called it a “punk
play,” and his comment elicited raised eyebrows at the Celtics’ practice
“I didn’t yank him down or do any of the dirty play
you’ve seen him play in the past,” Rondo said. “So that’s what it
Despite the attention the hard foul drew as a result of
Wade’s remarks, Celtics coach Doc Rivers expressed surprise that the foul
sparked any reaction at all. Rivers said he would be “very surprised”
if the league found reason to fine Rondo or take any further action on the foul,
which Rivers felt was good and clean.
“I thought it was nondescript,” Rivers said.
“I really did. He grabbed him around the shoulders. It wasn’t that hard. I
think it’s much ado about nothing, personally. I hate going back to our day
but, gosh, that would have been maybe a foul. I didn’t think it was that big a deal, but I guess it is.”
Rondo and Wade have faced off in several pressure situations
over the years, but the most memorable moment occurred in Game 3 of the 2011
Eastern Conference semifinals. Rondo was defending Wade and poked the ball
away, but in an attempt to keep Rondo from getting to the loose ball, Wade
pulled Rondo to the floor. As both players fell, Rondo put out his left arm to
brace himself — leading to a gruesome dislocation as Rondo’s elbow bent
Rondo left the game but returned to start the fourth quarter
and lead Boston to a 97-81 victory. That would turn out to be the Celtics’ only
win of the series.
Another moment that must stick in Rondo’s craw came last
spring in Game 2 of the East finals. With Paul Pierce fouled out, Rondo drove
to the hoop and was clearly raked across the face by Wade, but there was no
whistle. The Celtics went on to lose that game but won the next three before
falling to the Heat in seven games. Had Wade’s slap been called, the series might
have ended differently.
Rondo was careful on Thursday to step around criticizing the
officials. He described his technical as basically a mouthguard malfunction,
explaining that his words got garbled when his mouthpiece popped out as he
spoke to the referee. Rondo would not take any verbal shots, veiled or obvious,
at the refs.
He stayed mostly restrained on the topic of Wade, too, but relaxed
just enough to get his message across.