In Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Dirk Nowitzki tore a ligament in his left middle finger, leaving him with a hand that is permanently mad at the world. He’ll wear a small splint tonight that he says won’t be much of a problem, only affecting his dribbling, catching, passing and defense. No big deal, since those aren’t Dirk’s favesies anyway.
The problem, however, will be how he is treated by the Heat players that guard him. With an injury in a place that is easily accessible, it stands to reason that Miami players might try a little bit extra to get some knocks in on Dirk’s injured digit. But not Udonis Haslem. That’s just not him. From the Dallas Morning News:
“It doesn’t change,” Haslem said. “I’m not the type of player who’s going to slap him on the hand “every chance I get. I don’t believe in that. I believe in playing straight-up man-to-man and obviously, relying on my teammates to give me some help.
“I’ve never been that type of guy. It’s not my style. I think our defense is good enough as a unit. It’s not just me against Dirk. There’s five guys out there to help out.”
That is very nice of Udonis Haslem. If I’m in his position, I’m karate chopping Dirk’s left hand any chance I get, because I figure a Dirk with nine fingers has to be worse than one with 10 fingers. Sure, a few blatant shots here and there will land him on the free throw line, but he’ll be there regardless of if the foul is on his hand or his arm. Might as well make ‘em count. Then again, I am a jerk.
While it’s nice to think that Udonis Haslem is just being a nice dude, this could just be some pregame track-covering. If he came out and said, “Yeah, we’re going to try to hack Dirk’s finger off,” he’d be fined and whistled every time he took a clean swipe at the ball.
I’m not accusing Haslem of anything nefarious, I’m just saying that publicly proclaiming you’re not going to hit a guy on his injured hand is a good way to throw people off the scent while winking slyly. I’m on to you, Udonis.