Australian NBA players’ reputation as hard-nosed, physical guys took a turn for the worse last season after a few incidents involving the Cavaliers’ Matthew Dellavedova and the Warriors’ Andrew Bogut, caused many fans and some hoops writers to label them ‘dirty.’
Dellavedova’s scrappy play in the Eastern Conference playoffs last season – beginning with the Kyle Korver ankle play, and then followed up with incidents with Al Horford and Taj Gibson – changed the way many looked at the Aussie guard.
A recent Los Angeles Times poll, conducted anonymously among 24 NBA coaches, players and GM’s, saw Dellavedova voted the ‘dirtiest player in the league’ with 13 votes, Oklahoma City’s New Zealand center Steven Adams was second with 7 votes, and Bogut was voted third dirtiest with 5 votes.
“Wow! Delly and Bogut are both from Australia,” an Eastern Conference player said about the tally, according to the L.A. Times article. “How about that! Delly is kind of dirty and he does cross the line. But I don’t even think it’s even close with Bogut. Dellavedova is a little bit wild and out of control.”
Philadelphia 76ers’ head coach Brett Brown has spent extensive time coaching both Dellavedova and Bogut during his time in charge of the Australian national team, and on Monday morning at Madison Square Garden he defended both players.
“I didn’t see it [the poll]. I live in a cave purposely,” said Brown. “At first glance I have the utmost respect for those voters [because] their version of dirty is my version of competitiveness. They [Dellavedova and Bogut] are elite competitors. I think they represent that Australian spirit in a major way, and having lived in that country for 17 years I can speak with confidence that what I’ve just said is true. I treat it as a compliment to two highly competitive people.”
On a conference call with international media on Sunday, Dellavedova refused to be drawn into answering questions on his style of play.
Brown actually said it was a testament to the sporting spirit of both Australia and New Zealand that their players represented the top three of the poll.
“It’s that region. If there was anyone from Papua [New Guinea] or Tahiti, it would really represent the region,” Brown continued. “Those areas are sporting nations. Look at New Zealand with three million people, Australia with 19 or 20 million, look at the rivalry that those two have, highlighted by the codes of rugby and the AFL, it is a sporting nation and a physical nation. I give those three players a lot of credit for being selected to that list.”