CLEVELAND – Another game, another ejection with the Cleveland Cavaliers scrappy Australian bulldog of a point guard, Matthew Dellavedova being in the middle of the chaos.
In perhaps the series-defining moment towards the end of the first half, he fell towards the direction of Atlanta Hawks All-Star center Al Horford and his ankle, to which both would become entangled on the floor, while going for a loose ball, leading towards Horford dropping an elbow, thus being assessed a flagrant two and an automatic ejection.
While Dellavedova would be charged a technical, the loss of Horford proved to be a proverbial turning point in the second half, as the Cavaliers would outlast the under-manned Hawks, 114-111 in overtime to take a commanding 3-0 lead—who were already without sharpshooter Kyle Korver—thanks to Dellavedova diving for a loose ball in Game 2, and rolling up on his ankle, causing a season-ending high ankle sprain.
In what has now turn into a heated debate about dirty play and questionable officiating, many fans outside of Cleveland are calling Delly “a dirty player out to intentionally hurt someone” to the questionable and controversial ejection of Horford as another example of the league wanting LeBron to win a ring in Cleveland, much to the delight of conspiracy theorists everywhere.
If the NBA playoffs needed a villain—or heel—that rival fans could unite to hate with unabated passion, then the short list would consist of the brash and outspoken Joakim Noah, the flashy and under-achieving duo of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the vocal and spirited Paul Pierce or perennial arm-breaker in Kelly Olynyk.
While it is so easy to hate LeBron, no one would have guess that an undrafted and scruffy Aussie point guard from St. Mary’s (Google them!) would emerge into the NBA’s most marked man and new uber-villain in Dellavedova. En route to his latest encounter in post-season infamy, Dellavedova has averaged 10.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists in his last five games in place of Kyrie Irving.
In scoring 19 points in the series-winning Game 6 against the Bulls and 17 in Game 3 Monday, Dellavedova is also averaging a leg lock, high ankle sprain and a WWE-style elbow drop.
Which leads to the burning question for all the Anna Horford’s of the blogosphere, as whether or not Delly is dirty. The answer is no, here’s why.
Not to date myself, but I have watched basketball for over 30-plus years and came up in an era of rugged and physical play. I saw the likes of hard-nosed lack of conscious-having enforcers such as Rick Mahorn, Anthony Mason, Charles Oakley, Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish and Charles Barkley elbow and rough-house their teams to post-season wins.
I find it laughable that thanks to the age of social media and “experts” weighing in on today’s watered-down mockery of hoops that a player such as Delly is considered “dirty”. To the uninitiated over-opinionated, energy-drinking, whine-and-cheese and Facebook drama-obsessed fans who are crying foul over Dellavedova’s antics, yet these same “fans” would openly embrace him as scrappy, hustling and a hard worker if he were on THEIR team faster than you can say Crocodile Dundee.
Such ignorance of how real playoff basketball is played is drowned out by the fake outrage and conspiracy-loving “NBA being rigged” theories, instead should do themselves a favor and YouTube “old-school basketball” because that is exactly what Delly is a throwback too. Delly, nor the Cavaliers need to apologize for hustling after a loose ball or diving on the floor, because that is the post-season, and winning the title is the ultimate prize.
The cry of Delly being dirty can be heard the loudest from Atlanta-based—what a coincidence—TNT, and most specifically their color commentators Reggie Miller and Chris Webber, who both droned on Dellavedova’s play, to the point where it proverbially hi-jacked the telecast. In kind, I posted on Facebook my displeasure with some choice words of my own.
“I’m not sure who HATES on Cleveland and the Cavs more ESPN or TNT, because I’m getting SOOOO annoyed with Dumb and Dumber in Reggie Miller and Chris Webber drone on about Delly….I get it, Miller you don’t like Delly, but then again both your non-ring winning a—-s would have loved to have him back in the day on your teams(Indiana and Sacramento), so shut your [email protected]#$%g candy-a—s up! #TheLand #Cavs”
One of my former colleagues from Rant Sports posted in response that I had readily dismissed their opinion due to the lack of rings they had. To answer that, I was dismissing their opinion because it was taking away from the action on the court, and while they are both entitled to their opinions, Miller—and his awful announcing—himself has no room to talk, as his infamous leg kick drew a lot of fouls while in the act of shooting, which is the reason the NBA finally outlawed it, while Webber called one of the most infamous timeouts in basketball history at Michigan.
To whine and complain in the way that both did ad nauseum came across as glorified cheer-leading and bias towards the Cavs. As I stated, this writer gets that Miller doesn’t like or approve of Dellavedova’s rugged style of play in being the most vocal opponent of Dellavedova during last night’s telecast, but when Horford himself along with fellow analysts such as Shaq, Kenny Smith, Ernie Johnson and Barkley all agreed that he wasn’t dirty, nor is a dirty player, he should have dropped it. Period.
For the record, I feel that both Horford’s ejection and Dellevedova’s technical was unjust and another example of the suspect officiating this postseason,
While we are on the subject of injustice and bad calls, where was all the faux outrage when Olynyk ripped Kevin Love’s socket out of his shoulder, the missed five-second inbound violation on Derrick Rose’s fluke of a game-winning shot in Game 3? Whether you agree to disagree, but many of the missed calls in the entire post-season can be argued and debated till the cows come home, but in retrospect, Dellavedova was a no-name, no one cared about, but after getting kicked by Gibson and elbowed by Horford, suddenly he is a “dirty” player?
I ask that we all remove our fan-colored glasses and look objectively at things in drawing our own conclusions, instead of falling in line with the enraged social media mob for once. At the end of the day, as stated above, Dellavedova is the kind of player that you hate playing against due to his hustle, heart and ability to make timely shots, but if he were on your own team, you’d love to have him.
If you deny this, then not only are you a liar and another card-carrying member of the social media mob who cannot come to appreciate a real throwback and scrappy player such as Dellavedova, who is simply doing what it takes to win, within the confines of the game.
And that is what post-season basketball is about, right? What do you think?