“Are Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce going to beat me up?”: When Dywane Wade refused to apologize to Rajon Rondo for causing freak elbow injury during 2011 NBA playoffs

Amulya Shekhar
|Published 12/09/2021

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade embraced their villain role with full aplomb. But perhaps injuring Rajon Rondo was a bit too much?

D-Wade has had a mixed legacy for his deeds on the court with the Miami Heat. Sure, Wade turned in one of the greatest Finals performances ever to lead the Heat to an improbable comeback in 2006.

But the circumstances of that turnaround are well-known – after all, Tim Donaghy did accused NBA commissioner David Stern of influencing the refereeing panel to extend that series – much like the 2002 Western Conference Finals between the Lakers and the Kings.

That situation aside, D-Wade has also been under the scanner over the course of his career for some dirty plays. One of those came against the Boston Celtics during the first year of his partnership with James and Bosh.

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Dywane Wade refused to apologize to Rajon Rondo for causing freak elbow injury during 2011 NBA playoffs

Wade and Rondo got wrapped up with each other during the second half of Game 3 in the Celtics’ faceoff against the Heat during the 2011 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

The resulting collision and its aftermath saw Rondo get his elbow dislocated. He was unable to play a significant role in that series after that. Celtics veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnnet had had some heated words with Wade after the incident.

The bad blood threatened to boil over into the form of physical foul play in Game 4 as well. However, D-Wade sought to put an end to any such prospects in the pre-game presser with the following statement:

“It’s basketball. Keep them back from what? Are they going to beat me up? For what? Did anyone watch the replay? Obviously I watched it. I’m done, I’ve moved on from that.”

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The Heat would take advantage of Rondo’s absence to stage two impressive LeBron-powered comebacks in both games to come. James and Wade were especially effective as a tandem in game 5, helping the Heat finish a 4-1 series rout.

It was not the last time the Heat would meet Garnett and Pierce’s Celtics in the playoffs. But the 2011 series definitely left a bad taste in the mouths of both Heat and Celtics supporters.

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