As we await the start of the NBA Finals (mercifully just one more day), the more tangential of ideas have danced like sugarplums in our heads. There’s a lot of talk going around now about the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Matthew Dellavedova after some notably rugged play in the ECF. Is he a dirty player, or just an industrious Aussie? Is he even the dirtiest player in this series? It made us think of creating an easy-to-reference dirty player index to compare him to the modern-era NBA’s grimiest.
So is Dellavedova dirty or just reckless? Some athletes wear that kind of physicality with pride, like a badge of honor. Some might see the accusations as disrespectful, but what exactly makes someone a dirty player? There are levels to it. Is flopping, trash talking, grabbing jerseys on defense on the same scale as diving at the knees and ankles of your opponents? Where does gamesmanship fit in? Where does Dellavedova fit in? Let’s refer to our NBA Dirty Player Index:
Threat Level Green – The Flopper
True, flopping isn’t exactly dirty, but the intention behind it is deceitful and premeditated. Nobody likes a flopper. See: Chris Paul, James Harden, Anderson Varejao, and flopping pioneer Vlade Divac. The list is plentiful in these dark times.
Threat Level Blue – The Who Me?
Undoubtedly dirty but somewhat minor offenses: elbows, knees, shoving, hard fouls, but this guy carries on with a look of perpetual shock whenever caught. See: Dwayne Wade, Andrew Bogut, but few ever did it better than John Stockton.
Threat Level Gold – The Enforcer
Enforcers hold it down for the squad, and are usually the most physically imposing players on the roster (not always: Dwight Howard) But, they live by a code man. See: Draymond Green, Charles Oakley.
Threat Level Orange – The Habitual Line-Stepper
These guys can’t help themselves. You draw a line, they cross it. Sometimes they have a code, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they’re studio gangsters, sometimes they aren’t. See: Matt Barnes, Danny Ainge, Pistons-era Dennis Rodman.
Threat Level Red – The Butcher
Alright, so the Butchers can’t help themselves. They remind me of that SNL sketch about former porn actors transitioning to a day job: “I’m sorry, It’s all I know!” Except for legendary butchers like Bill Laimbeer who knew exactly what he was doing. See: Tyler Hansborough, Scot Pollard, Dikembe Mutombo, Bill Cartwright, Bill Laimbeer.
Threat Level Midnight – The Ron-Ron
Bonus level as the man formerly known as “Ron-Ron” stands virtually alone here. The “Ron-Ron” is your wild card. Code? No code? Who knows? See: Ron Artest aka “Metta World Peace“, closest after Artest is post-Pistons Rodman, then Vernon “Mad Max” Maxwell, going only as far back as the 1990s. See also: Tyler Hansbrough.
MAGGIE THACH | @magsthach
Sports. Writing. I’ve never been a natural at either, but I love them both. I’m happy to be joining these two loves at Dat Winning. I received my MFA in creative nonfiction in 2013 and I play in an over-30 women’s basketball league. We are currently 9-3.