NBA players and coaches polled by the Los Angeles Times voted Matthew Dellavedova the league’s dirtiest player.
Just 24 NBA players and coaches completed the survey, making its findings somewhat less than scientific. Those who voted Dellavedova the dirtiest player appropriately used Australian ballots. “He’s as dirty as they come,” an anonymous Western Conference coach told the Times about the player on his anonymous ballot. “When you’re hurting people, that is not OK.”
The undrafted Aussie gained attention, of both the positive and negative variety, during last season’s playoff run of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers guard’s rough play against the Atlanta Hawks, including allegedly diving at Al Horford’s legs, earned an elbow to the face from Horford. “He’s got to learn,” Horford explained. “He’s only been in this league for a couple of years or whatever. But he’s got to learn at the end of the day it’s a big brotherhood here. Guys look out for each other. I don’t think it was malicious, but he has to learn.”
But against the Golden State Warriors in Game Three of the Finals he scored 20 points and received treatment at a Cleveland hospital for dehydration. LeBron James, who converted an alley-oop pass from Dellavedova for two in the game, characterized his teammate as “willing to sacrifice everything for the betterment of the team.”
Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams came in a distant second, followed by Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut, Memphis Grizzlies forward Matt Barnes, and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka. While foreign-born players compose less than a quarter of the NBA, they constitute 80 percent of the top-five list of dirtiest players.
Dellavedova averages eight points and five assists this season for Cleveland.
“I don’t think there are any dirty players anymore,” coach in the Western Conference told the Times. “Back in the ’80s and ’90s, you could cheap-shot guys. But now it’s a fine, it’s a suspension, it’s a points system. There’s no enforcer like there used to be. Who’s an enforcer like Charles Oakley? There’s no enforcer because of the rules. How much can a little guard get under your skin? And Dellavedova is a backup. He ain’t dirty. None of these guys are dirty.”