There’s a solid argument to be made that Dwyane Wade is among the three best shooting guards to ever play the game, as the 2006 NBA Finals MVP and three-time NBA champ also turned in one of the greatest single-season performances by a shooting guard in 2008-09 and has been nothing short of phenomenal as a postseason performer. An 11-time All-Star and a three-time NBA All-Defensive Team honoree, Wade is a beloved South Florida icon, and it is not uncommon to hear the home of the Heat referred to as “Miami-Wade County.” Outside of Miami, however, the feelings about Wade tend to be diametrically opposed to those expressed by Heat fans.
There are many who will disagree with the notion that Wade should be granted even the slightest hint of consideration as one of the game’s all-time greats, and at least part of the reason is the fact that the Heat legend has a penchant for inspiring animosity among opponents, teammates, fans and coaches. With a reputation as a whiner, a flopper and -- especially among fans of the Boston Celtics -- as a viciously dirty player, Wade has inspired intense dislike throughout much of his decorated NBA career and has been the subject of retribution on an occasion or two.
It’s worth noting Wade’s on-court exploits before delving into the flaws that have inspired the anger of those appearing on this list, as Wade's 2006 NBA Finals performance is truly the stuff of legend. In the last four games -- all Heat victories -- Wade erased a 2-0 deficit by putting up a ridiculous line of 39.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.5 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game. Of course, one of the individuals appearing on this list took issue with the way Wade “earned” some of those points, but his 2006 NBA Finals performance nonetheless ranks as one of the best of all time.
Impressive accomplishments aside, Wade has managed to tick off more than a few of his peers and there are few fans outside of Miami who would be willing to discuss Wade’s NBA achievements without first mentioning the aspects of his game and his personality that make him one of the most hated players of his generation. The following 15 individuals have all expressed some level of dislike (sometimes quite serious, others a bit more tongue-in-cheek) for Wade at some point, including criticisms of everything from his style of play to his “progressive” fashion sense.
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15 Lance Stephenson
While Lance Stephenson was still with the Indiana Pacers, he had a series of run-ins with Wade that included the infamous “flying elbow” Wade delivered during the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals. During a regular-season matchup the following season, both Stephenson and Wade were assessed technical fouls after they got into a shoving match, with Stephenson ultimately getting tossed from the game when he earned a second technical for glaring at Wade following a made basket.
Before the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals between the Heat and Pacers began, Stephenson employed a bit of subtlety when he told the official website of the Pacers, “D. Wade, his knee is kind of messed up, so I have to be extra aggressive and make him run. Tell coach to run 'Floppy' and run him around and make his knee flare up or something. Do anything possible so the games will come easier for us … on the court there’s no friends."
14 Darren Collison
Darren Collison was the victim of one of Wade’s retaliatory efforts during the 2012 NBA Playoffs, as Wade, upset with a no-call on the other end, sprinted to thwart an Indiana fast break by delivering a hard forearm to the back of an unsuspecting Collison. The 6-0 Pacers point guard, giving up close to 50 pounds to the 6-4, 220-pound Wade and running full speed, went flying and slid all the way from the elbow to the base of the basket, where Wade then took a moment to stare Collison down.
13 Ramon Sessions
There are few instances in which any man is willing to forgive an intentional shot to the groin, which is reason enough for Sessions to occupy a spot on this list. In a 2012 game against the Charlotte Bobcats, Wade wound up with a one-game suspension due to his actions in retaliation for a reach-in foul committed by Sessions. Though he claimed it was not intentional, the NBA ultimately thought otherwise after reviewing the video that showed Wade kicking Sessions in the groin. Sessions agreed with the NBA’s assessment, saying, “I thought he did it on purpose."
12 Kobe Bryant
Now that Kobe has announced his retirement, NBA players throughout the league are showering the Lakers legend with nothing but praise. Wade, even though he recently referred to Bryant as both his favorite player and the “greatest player of our era,” once broke Kobe’s nose during the 2012 All-Star Game, apparently in retaliation for the two fouls Kobe had delivered on Wade earlier in the exhibition game.
While Wade claimed he did not intend to cause harm to Kobe, his Lakers teammates took issue, with Andrew Bynum saying, "It was an All-Star Game. I don't understand what that was all about. It was crazy." Kobe, who did not stick around for postgame comments after the incident, clearly took issue with Wade’s behavior during the NBA’s midseason showcase, which is perfectly illustrated by the following excerpt taken from Tim Grover’s book, Relentless:
"Kobe wanted to see [Wade] face-to-face before he'd go to the hospital. It wasn't about vengeance or retaliation or settling the score. It was about the law and order of the jungle, two animals instinctively facing off, the lion king getting up on that rock so the rest of the jungle could see who was in charge. One direct, silent look that says, 'I still own this, motherf----r.'"
11 Stan Van Gundy
Wade’s former coach, who was ousted during the season in which the Heat went on to win in the 2006 NBA Finals, expressed a bit of schadenfreude when Wade and his new teammates -- LeBron James and Chris Bosh -- endured relatively frequent struggles during their first season together.
After reports came out saying that some members of the Heat were crying in the locker room following a loss to the Chicago Bulls, Van Gundy chimed in by saying, “I do chuckle a little bit when they sort of complain about the scrutiny they get. My suggestion would be if you don't want the scrutiny, you don't hold a championship celebration before you've even practiced together.”
10 Mike Bibby
Mike Bibby, briefly a teammate of Wade’s, could not have appreciated being the butt of several playful jokes during what was ultimately the last games of his career. Playing for the Knicks during a first-round playoff loss to the Heat, Bibby lost a shoe during play, only to have Wade throw it out of bounds near the Heat bench. Of the play, which led Bibby to glare at Wade before he retrieved the shoe, Wade said, "I'd never done that before, but it was fun. I love messing with Mike, with Bibbs.”
Wade continued to mess with his former teammate following a Game 4 Knicks victory, poking fun at Bibby’s lack of production as a member of the Heat, saying, "We know Mike has made more shots in this series than he made all last year [with the Heat]. Send that to Mike." While Wade said it was all in good fun, Bibby likely felt he was deserving of a more respectful send-off after a solid 14-year career in the NBA that saw him score more than 14,000 career points.
9 Bill Simmons
The outspoken former ESPN employee and the founder of Grantland, Bill Simmons’ status as a rabid Celtics fan probably inspired some level of bias against Wade while working the 2013 NBA Finals featuring the Heat and the Spurs. When Simmons joked on a late-night Sportscenter broadcast that Wade’s sudden resurgence could be attributed to Wade “going to Germany,” it should not have been all that surprising that subsequent airings edited out Simmons’ comment. Simmons would later complain that his joke -- a euphemism for PED use -- was censored by ESPN and was no worse than Stephen A. Smith “ripping people to shreds.”
While Simmons has always judged Wade's career favorably in a historical context, it is also fair to say that there has to be plenty of dislike harbored by an unabashed Celtics fan who is willing to make a thinly veiled reference to the possibility of PED use on live television.
8 Kevin Durant
In making the case that James Harden should be ranked among the league’s 10 best players, Durant suggested that, “as an older guy, it's time [for Wade] to pass the torch to the younger guys.” Though Durant said he did not intend any disrespect, Wade took offense to the slight, posting a hand-written note to Instagram that read,"9-24-13: Kevin Durant said James Harden should replace me in the Top 10... Note to self* Make him respect your place in history... again..."
Of course, Wade's response and reference to the Heat besting Durant's Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals prompted Durant to reply to the longtime Heat star via Twitter, saying, “Show me don’t tweet me…”
7 David Stern
The labor talks in 2011 involved particularly contentious negotiations between players and owners, but the most acrimonious moment came when Dwyane Wade interrupted then-commissioner David Stern, yelling, “You’re not pointing your finger at me. I’m not your child.”
Wade, reportedly responding to what he felt was condescension from Stern, also referred to the NBA Commissioner as “David” on more than one occasion during the negotiations. Wade then used his leverage to put even more pressure on Stern and the owners by making a public declaration that the NBA “may lose a year.”
6 Doc Rivers
As the coach of the Boston Celtics, Rivers saw Wade and the Heat a great deal during the regular season and the playoffs, and things came to a head between the teams as the decline of Boston’s Big Three coincided with the rise of the Heat’s version of the Big Three. After Wade took issue with Rajon Rondo’s late-game flagrant foul by calling it a “punk play,” and complaining that Rondo “clotheslined” him, Rivers pointed out that Wade might benefit from taking a look in the mirror.
The former Celtics coach reminded Wade that he has “given out a lot of hard fouls,” and went out of his way to say Rondo’s elbow injury was “created” by Wade. To further underscore the fact that Rivers felt Rondo’s actions were perfectly warranted and not a “punk move” given the pair’s prior history, Rivers said, "I don't think [Rondo's flagrant] was a 'punk' move unless [Wade's foul] was, too."
5 Paul Pierce
Frequent encounters in the playoffs quickly inspires hatred among opponents, and the hatred between Pierce and Wade (and the Celtics and Heat as a whole) was so strong that Wade, upon learning that Pierce and Kevin Garnett had been traded to Brooklyn, said that he was sure the bad blood between them would “transfer well.” With many on-court incidents that include flagrant fouls, technicals, ejections and the frequent exchange of verbal barbs, it has been well established that Pierce is not fond of his longtime on-court nemesis from Miami.
4 Mark Cuban
While their feud has since ended, Cuban and Wade went out of their way to avoid each other for almost a decade after the Heat came back from two games down to win the 2006 NBA Finals over the Mavs. After Wade went to the free throw line a total of 46 times in the final two games, Cuban expressed frequent disdain for the player who delayed a Mavericks championship celebration for another five years.
In 2014 however, Cuban cleared the air to note that he no longer felt that Wade was a “self-promoting prima donna,” saying, “At the beginning, I [disliked Wade] because I think he thought he was entitled to everything that happened in that (2006) series. But it’s been eight years. I mean, I take a little bit of joy in games where he doesn’t go to the free throw line. But I like D-Wade now. He’s a guy who does a lot of good things off the court and I have to respect that.”
Perhaps the most enlightening part of Cuban’s statement was the example he provided illustrating just how strongly he once felt about Wade, saying, “If you’d have asked me eight years ago, it would have been a different answer. There was a time I did a commercial and he was there. He walked out of the room so I wouldn’t see him. I walked out a different door so I wouldn’t have to talk to him.”
3 Kevin Garnett
Garnett and Wade have gotten into it on several occasions over the years, with Wade often being drawn into retaliatory action by KG, including one instance in which Wade was provoked into a flagrant foul. During a 2011 Heat-Celtics game, Wade threw his shoulder into Garnett after the Celtics big man set a hard screen on an unsuspecting Mike Miller.
After KG -- along with Pierce -- was traded to Brooklyn, he would again meet Wade and the Heat in the playoffs, leading to Wade’s famous “we thought we buried them” quote. Between all of the playoff battles, staredowns, hard fouls and overly physical play, it’s clear that Garnett and Wade have long shared a mutual dislike for one another while on the court.
2 Dirk Nowitzki
After seeing his first shot at an NBA championship slip away at the hands of Wade in 2006, Nowitzki earned a measure of redemption in 2011 when the Mavericks defeated the Heat in in six games. With the Mavs down 2-1 in the series, Nowitzki played through a 101-degree temperature and scored 21 points in a Dallas victory.
Wade, referring to the attention Nowitzki received following his Game 4 performance as a “fun-loving story of him being sick,” continued to make light of the illness before Game 5, when he appeared to fake a coughing bout before he laughed and said, “Whoa, did y’all hear me cough? I think I’m sick.”
Nowitzki expressed his displeasure after learning of Wade’s pre-game behavior by saying, "I just thought it was a little childish, a little ignorant. You know I’ve been in this league for 13 years. I’ve never faked an illness or injury before. But you know, it happened. It’s over to me. It’s not going to add anything extra to me. This is the NBA finals. If you need extra motivation, you have a problem.”
Of course, the fact that Wade declared "Dirk was the reason they lost," after the 2006 NBA Finals could not have been very easily forgotten by Nowitzki either.
1 Rajon Rondo
Rondo faced off against Wade in a number of memorable playoff series featuring the Celtics and Heat during the peak of Boston’s “Big Three” years, and the mercurial point guard has very good reason for disliking the Heat legend. During the 2011 Eastern Conference semifinals, Rondo poked the ball away from Wade during an isolation play, prompting Wade to lock up Rondo before he could get to the loose ball. Rondo’s elbow was dislocated as Wade took him to the ground.
The following season, Rondo’s ability to hold a grudge was on full display, as he took Wade down with a clothesline in the final minute of an early-season matchup between the Celtics and Heat. After hearing that Wade referred to Rondo’s flagrant foul as a “punk play,” Rondo provided his own assessment, saying, “I mean, I don't think it was a hard foul. [Wade] sold it a little bit, and that's basketball. They were up, he drove to the hole, I didn't want to give up a layup. Simple as that. I didn't yank him down, or, dirty plays that you've seen him play in the past. So that's what it is."
Even as the second Big Three era came to an end in Boston and Garnett and Pierce departed via trades, Rondo, after admitting that the Heat and Celtics could no longer be considered true rivals due to Boston’s reduced competitive stature, made sure to qualify his response by adding, "But I still don't like those guys."
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