Anybody that thought the Heat would cruise unscathed all the way to the championship might have had a rude awakening during the last two games. Not because they aren’t looking like a championship caliber team – they are. Not because Wade and James aren’t producing enough – they are. But because the Heat are literally shedding blood for their wins.
Sports news was dominated the past 2 days by talk of Udonis Haslem’s retaliation foul on Tyler Hansborough after he raked Dwyane Wade across the right eye. The result was a bloodied, bandaged eye-brow similar to Haslem’s in game four needing nine stitches. The first became a rallying cry for fans, as the Triple-A handed out thousands of “UD40” labeled band-aids for game 5 in Miami.
Younger fans might be surprised by the physical intensity, but Larry Bird himself called the Indiana Pacers “soft” after last night’s game, recalling an era when players played hard all the time. What’s unexpected is that Udonis’ payback has received a disproportionate amount of national attention versus Hansborough more egregious foul.
The league decided to make Udonis sit out tonight’s game, while Dexter Pittman will miss the next three. But it’s pretty clear that South Florida is fully behind the home-grown hero as he protects the freight trains pulling us to the championship.
If the NBA wants to limit violent, flagrant fouls, they should let Udonis play his role as a deterrent. Opposing teams will think twice.