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Dwyane Wade gaining reputation as “dirty” player

Dec 28, 2012, 9:08 AM EDT

Dwyane Wade AP

Last year during the NBA All-Star Game — and exhibition where matador defense is played — Dwyane Wade broke Kobe Bryant’s nose with the kind of hard foul reserved for the playoffs.

Then during the playoffs, in the first round against the Knicks, Mike Bibby lost a show and Wade took it and threw it off the court. Or there was the time during last year’s playoffs when a frustrated Wade blindsided Indiana’s Darren Collison and picked up a flagrant foul.

The list of cheap little plays by Dwyane Wade is becoming a long one. Remember it was him fighting for a loose ball that knocked Rajon Rondo too the ground and dislocated his elbow in the 2011 playoffs.

Then on Wednesday, Wade threw his leg out trying to pick up a foul on Ramon Sessions and kicked the Bobcats guard right in the groin. The league has suspended Wade for a game for that one.

That list above is just part of a pattern, one leading to a growing reputation around the league that Wade is a dirty player. Something that Brian Windhorst talked about at ESPN.com.

A series of questionable plays over the past two years seem to have harmed Wade’s stature among his peers. Some, such as well-known adversary Rajon Rondo, said Wade is guilty of “dirty plays.”…

Especially over the past few seasons, Wade’s anger has often been manifested in bouts with officials. He has become one of the league’s most constant complainers. Wade has occasionally been guilty of not getting back on defense because he’s allowed himself to be delayed to complain about non-calls. On Christmas Day, as he was on his way to the locker room to get treatment after a minor leg injury, Wade stopped to complain to officials about not drawing a foul on the previous play….

All of this is unbecoming of Wade’s stature in the game. He did not behave like this during the early years of his career as he soared in popularity and earned the respect of the league. As he’s become a veteran, his personality has appeared to change somewhat on the floor.

Wade is one of a small group of players who can play better when angry (most players think they can but really just become less focused and make mistakes). He seems to work himself into that state more and more of late, and while it can lead to nights of big plays there is a corollary of arguing with officials and cheap plays.

Wade’s foul on Sessions is just the latest and in some ways most public of those plays. But at this point I don’t think it changes who Wade is on the court. He is who he is, and that personality has led him to be one of the best perimeter players in the game and a two-time NBA champion.

But his reputation among players has become more than just that.

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