After the Miami Heat scored a 105-92 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night, pro wrestling legend and Charlotte resident Ric Flair visited the Heat locker room, where he was greeted with a chorus of "Whooo!"s and dubbed "the creator of swag" by Heat star LeBron James. But perhaps Miami's truest tribute to Flair came during the fourth quarter, when All-Star guard Dwyane Wade broke out one of Flair's longtime favorite moves on Bobcats point guard Ramon Sessions.
No, not the Figure Four. A different longtime favorite:
Yikes. Way to split the uprights, Dwyane. You've done "The Nature Boy" proud.
The beauty part: It was Sessions, not Wade, who got whistled for a reach-in foul on the play. Most gentleman observers would submit that Wade's reach-in was far more damaging, but hey: We're not NBA referees.
Ascribing intent in these situations can be difficult at times, but it sure as shooting looks like Wade meant to swing his left leg up toward Sessions' bathing-suit area; I mean, it's not as if his follow-through was the inevitable physics-demanded result of the bump that preceded it or anything.
And when you consider Wade's past penchant for straddling the line between hard-nosed and rule-breaking play — recall, if you will, Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo's declaration earlier this season that Wade makes "dirty plays," or this collection of questionable moments compiled by Larry Brown Sports — it becomes easier to think that maybe Wade was deliberately acting out. Then again, Wade choosing to do so in full sight of the officials in the fourth quarter of a two-possession game in which he personally was playing great would seem completely counterintuitive, wouldn't it? (See? This is why ascribing intent in these situations can be difficult at times, just like I said a few sentences ago.)
After the game, as you might expect, Sessions said he believed Wade's kick was intentional, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel:
The move caught Sessions off guard.
"I thought he did it on purpose, and it wasn't called," Sessions said afterward. [...]
Wade was not questioned postgame about the play in question.
That's kind of weird — it seems like a punt to the plums that caused a player to hit the deck grabbing his nether regions, was captured by TV cameras, elicited rounds of boos from the arena audience and led to a protracted discussion between the kicker and the kickee about what the heck just happened would be the kind of thing someone might ask about after the game. But no worries, reporters — I'm guessing that NBA discipline czar Stu Jackson will have a couple of questions of his own to ask once he catches this video at some point on Thursday. Remember, Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins was suspended for one game for a surreptitious groin-punch delivered to Dallas Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo less than one month ago. (Then again, it wouldn't exactly be surprising to see Cousins punished more harshly than Wade, or seemingly similar incidents resulting in disparate punishments, because that kind of seems like where the NBA's at right now.)
Wade finished with a game-high 29 points, nine rebounds and five assists for the Heat, who notched their 20th win of the season and their sixth straight. Fresh off his brilliant play against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Christmas Day, James turned in another dominant effort with 27 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, four steals and two blocked shots.
Point guard Kemba Walker (27 points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals, but also five turnovers) led the way for the Bobcats, who posted their 16th straight loss to drop to 7-21 on the season. The dire stretch is tied for the sixth longest in NBA history, and is the second time this calendar year that Charlotte has lost 16 straight games — last year's historically bad 'Cats team lost 16 in a row from Jan. 16 through Feb. 15. Looking on the bright side, though — I mean, I guess — Charlotte would still need to lose seven more games to match the worst slide in franchise history, a 23-game winless streak that lasted more than a month last season, running from March 19 through April 26.
Still: Even if it's not all-time-bad yet, all this losing must have the Bobcats feeling like someone just ... well, y'know.
If the clip above isn't rocking for you, please feel free to check out Wade's kick elsewhere, thanks to NBACalifornia.