Wade deserves suspension for Game 2 foul
The NBA had ample reason to suspend Dwyane Wade for two games.
Yes, it's the playoffs, and, yes, it would have hurt the Heat, but what Wade did to Darren Collison in the Indiana Pacers' win vs. Miami on Tuesday warranted a suspension because it was a dangerous play that can't be justified.
Instead, the NBA chose not to upgrade Wade's flagrant foul or suspend him, which is nothing if not inconsistent.
With 9:27 left in Indiana's 78-75 win, Wade lowered his left shoulder into Collison's back as Collison was streaking down the court for a layup. This was no “basketball play.” It was a football play. And Wade is lucky Collison was not injured.
Wade made no play on the ball. In fact, he hit Collison before he had the ball. He hit him just inside the three-point line, and Collision didn't stop tumbling until he was at the baseline.
To paraphrase Joe Friday, those are the facts, ma'am.
Add it all up. A blindside shoulder at the three-point line that sends a guy flying to the baseline, that brought the risk of considerable injury, that was totally unwarranted (except for Wade's unhappiness a foul wasn't called when he attempted a shot at the other end) — this is basketball? To call it anything but an outrageous cheap shot does not do it justice.
The NBA had precedent.
In late March, New Orleans' Jason Smith made a similar play against Blake Griffin of the Clippers. Smith lowered his shoulder and hit Griffin as the Clippers' star was about to take off for one of his spectacular dunks.
Smith was suspended for two games.
Smith received a flagrant 2 foul for his shoulder check. He was ejected. Wade was given a flagrant 1. He was not ejected.
That was one of the differences in the two hits. Griffin had the ball, Collison did not. Griffin saw Smith coming, Collison never knew Wade was about to hit Collison. Both those truths make Wade's hit more wrong — and dangerous.
The other difference: Smith hit a superstar. Collison was hit by a superstar — though the way Wade is racking up cheap-shot fouls, it's getting more difficult to admire his super play.
So far this season, in addition to the shoulder shot to Collison, Wade forcefully shoved Rip Hamilton out of bounds while “defending” the Bulls guard in April and broke the nose of Lakers star Kobe Bryant with a hard foul in the All-Star Game.
In last year's playoffs, Wade lowered his shoulder and ran through a screen set by Celtics guard Paul Pierce that led to double technicals. Wade also was involved in a tussle that led to Celtics guard Rajon Rondo dislocating his elbow in the playoffs when Wade dragged Rondo to the floor, an action many in Boston still consider a dirty play.
But back to this year's playoffs.
In the Heat's first-round matchup with the Knicks, New York guard Mike Bibby lost his shoe. Wade picked it up and threw it to the bench, a small-minded action that didn't seem to please Bibby.
Then came the behind-the-back hit to Collison, after which the home crowd was more interested in complaining about the previous non-call than recognizing Wade's cheap shot.
Had that play happened in Indiana, Pacers fans would have raised the roof. And rightly so.
There are a lot of reasons to not like the way Wade acted and reacted during and after that loss. The non-call he complained about was 50-50 at best, yet he acted as if he'd had his nose broken without a call. He took that frustration out on Collison in as amateurish a way as he could.
Then came his postgame remarks that the Pacers celebrated the win too much. This from the guy who, during the most over-the-top celebration of a free-agent signing, called the Heat's talented trio the greatest ever — before they'd even played a game together.
Choose a word — entitled, petulant, spoiled. Wade is making them all fit.
But none of that is the reason the NBA should have acted when it comes to Wade's hit on Collison.
The league should have acted because Wade made a non-basketball, dangerous play against a defenseless guy, a play that could have resulted in serious injury and was prompted only by the hurt feelings of the guy who committed the foul.
The NBA should follow the precedent it already set and suspend Wade.
He earned it.