Good thing Dwyane Wade caught himself.
Angry with Rajon Rondo for what he considered an excessive foul with 16.9 seconds left in Tuesday's season-opening win, Wade stepped in close and glared down at the Celtics' controversial point guard for a few tense seconds.
"We’re in the NBA," Wade said after the 120-107 win. "I got my kids watching, so I stopped myself, but it was a punk play. The league will take care of it."
I asked Wade if he said the P-word to Rondo when they were nose to nose.
"I just did," Wade said with a wink. "There’s a lot of cameras here."
Rondo, who was called for a Flagrant 1, downplayed the actual foul when asked about it later in the visiting locker room. Rondo reached out and grabbed Wade around the neck and shoulders, first with the left hand and then with the right.
When I told Rondo about Wade's description of the play -- "He clotheslined me with two hands" -- and that Wade had called it a "punk play," Rondo at first declined comment.
"I don't have a response to that," he said.
"You been waiting to ask me that question all night?" he said.
I told him it was only fair to ask for his response after what Wade had said.
"Everybody’s entitled to their opinion," he said. "I know he has a voice. There’s nothing else to it."
Did Wade tell Rondo it was a "punk play" when they were on the court?
"No," Rondo said, "he didn’t say anything to my face."
LeBron James was back in the Heat locker room dealing with cramps when the showdown took place. But even watching on TV, LeBron could tell how serious that disagreement was.
"[Wade] did show poise," LeBron said. "Watching from back here, seeing the anger on his face and what he wanted to do ... I’m glad he restrained from doing what he wanted to do. It wasn’t a basketball play."
Wade and Rondo have tangled before. Two seasons ago, it was Wade who inadvertently fell on top of Rondo during the playoffs and contribued to a dislocated elbow that cost the Celtics dearly.
Why does something always seem to happen when Rondo and the Heat hook up?
"You got to go ask him that, man. I have no idea," Wade said. "I’m here to play basketball. It’s what we are. We’re basketball players. If you want to go do something else, then go do something else. Boxing and all those other things, this is not it. We’re basketball players here."
He shook his head.
"I understand. It get it," Wade said. "It’s whatever. We’re all in the moment of the game sometimes. You foul a guy a certain way. That [time] he let me go by and he grabbed me around my neck. The refs did a great job of stopping it. Got my two free throws and we moved on."
Like his teammates, Wade was pleased with the restraint he showed.
"I’m glad I was able to stop myself in that very moment and move on from it," he said. "We’ll see next time we play."
Unfortunately, that won't happen for nearly another three full months: Jan. 27, a Sunday afternoon in Boston.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times