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Plenty of people, particularly Toronto Raptors fans, took offense to footage that found its way to social media of Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade casually going about his pregame shooting routine while a young girl sang Canada's national anthem "O Canada" at midcourt of American Airlines Arena prior to Game 3.
And rightfully so, not just because it's customary to silently reflect during the national anthems for both teams involved in an NBA playoff game, especially since their countries allow Wade to make a $20 million annual salary for playing the game he loves, but because the league's rules actually require him to do so:
"Players, coaches and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line during the playing of the National Anthem."
Knowingly or not, Wade disrespected Canada's national anthem, even if he wasn't willing to go that far when asked about it at Sunday's practice. Wade cited the earlier start time for singing two national anthems, as if he hadn't played 35 games against the Raptors during his career, and a superstitious pregame routine that "requires" him to convert a layup or dunk and a 15-foot bank shot before the game, according to the Miami Herald. The Palm Beach Post's Jason Lieser has Wade's comments in full:
“You’re always sensitive to anything throughout the world. I’m not thinking about nothing like that. I’m thinking about what I need to do before every game that I prepare for and have been doing my whole career. I understand whatever’s said from that standpoint, but I’m not a disrespectful person. If anybody thinks I’m being disrespectful to their country, then they have no idea who Dwyane Wade is.
“No disrespect from myself or Amar’e [Stoudemire, who was rebounding for Wade] or anybody. If anybody feels like it was, please don’t fill up my timeline with disrespectful comments, because that’s not this guy right here. Find somebody else with that.”
“People see video footage of what they want to see. I have a ritual where I come off the bench and going into the anthem line I’ll have a layup or dunk and then make a shot. Here, we always make sure we come out and give thanks to our troops first, then we do our anthem as well. It’s just a ritual. It’s something different when we’re playing Canada here at home and the clock starts at a different time.”
In between saying he's "always sensitive to anything" and "I'm not thinking about nothing like that" in consecutive sentences, then referring to himself in the third person before saying one disrespectful act does not a disrespectful man make, telling everyone they saw something different than him shooting during the national anthem and prioritizing an arbitrary ritual over "O Canada," I did not see an apology.
For the record, the video does not show Wade making the bank shot before joining his teammates at the foul line, but let's assume he did. And while his Heat then went on to lose Game 3, 95-91, let's also assume the outcome had nothing to do with whether Wade made a layup and a bank shot in warmups.
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Still, some folks wanted blood for Wade's Canadian diss, even calling for a one-game suspension, most of whom were probably Raptors fans who would prefer not to see him score 38 points again in Game 4.
After all, there is precedent for failing to honor the "Star Spangled Banner," as the NBA once benched former Denver Nuggets star Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf in 1996 for refusing to stand for the national anthem based on his Muslim beliefs. Then again, the NBA did nothing to punish Dion Waiters for sitting out the national anthem after he was removed from the starting lineup in Cleveland two years ago — an act he reportedly first described as a religious objection and later blamed on a poorly timed pregame routine.
For their part, the NBA did seek a resolution to Wade's violation of the rule, issuing this statement:
"We spoke to the team and the Heat will work with its players to make sure no pregame routines interfere with either anthem going forward.”
And Wade will oblige. "We have to make an adjustment with our pregame routine, too, with everything starting a little earlier than we are used to," Wade told reporters gathered at Sunday's practice, according to the Miami Herald. "[On Saturday], it kind of started a little later than when we were in Canada."
This seems like the most reasonable of solutions, although I still don't sense an apology in there.
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