Rivers, Rondo: Foul on Wade legit

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers dismissed Dwyane Wade's suggestion that Rajon Rondo's flagrant foul at the end of Tuesday's season-opener against the Heat in Miami was a "punk play."

Rondo was whistled for a flagrant foul 1 after he hooked Wade in the neck area on a late drive to the basket. The two players exchanged words before being separated by teammates. Miami won the game 120-107.

Appearing Thursday on Boston sports radio WEEI, Rivers noted that Wade has "given a lot of hard fouls" in his career and pointed out that Rondo's gruesome elbow injury during the 2011 playoffs was "created by Dwyane Wade."

Added Rivers: "I don't think (Rondo's flagrant) was a 'punk' move unless (Wade's foul) was, too."

Wade replied, telling Rivers "to go back and look."

"Rondo pulled me and I pulled him and we both fell," Wade said on ESPN radio. "That's how I was falling because Rondo pulled me on that play. I apologized to Rondo for that because I don't ever want to see anyone get injured. Just like I didn't mean to injure Kobe (Bryant) in the All-Star Game but things happen. But it wasn't 18 seconds left where the game was decided. That's what I was talking about when I called it a punk play. There's 18 seconds left, why are you going for my neck? You can do that early in the game, in competition, let's go."

At practice on Thursday, Rondo agreed with his coach while sneaking in a little jab at Wade.

"I mean, I don't think it was a hard foul," Rondo said. "(Wade) sold it a little bit, and that's basketball. They were up, he drove to the hole, I didn't want to give up a layup. Simple as that. I didn't yank him down, or dirty plays that you've seen him play in the past. So that's what it is."

According to a league spokesman, Rondo's flagrant will stand as called upon video review.

At practice, Rivers seemed amused that the play had become such a talking point.

"I thought it was nondescript. I really did," Rivers said. "(Rondo) grabbed him around the shoulders, it wasn't that hard. So I think it's much ado about nothing, personally. And I hate going back to our (playing) days, but, my gosh, that would have been maybe a foul. I didn't think it was that big of a deal. But I guess it is."

Rondo also explained the technical foul he registered earlier in the fourth quarter Tuesday, saying it was more of a misunderstanding than anything else.

"Well, actually, on that particular play, I asked (the ref), 'What was the reason?' and I guess I still had my mouthpiece in, so the words didn't come out of my mouth correctly at first anyway. But I got the tech and that's what it is."

When asked if he had cursed with his mouthpiece in, he said, "No, I didn't curse at him. If you see the film, I told him that I thought he hooked me, and I was walking towards him, and that's where the respect of the game rules come into play. And popped with a tech."

Although Rivers acknowledged he preferred his players to keep their emotions in check and not hurt the team, he also stressed that he likes Rondo to play with an edge.

"I like his fire -- I want to keep that fire," he said.

Rivers said that the Heat have improved, and not just because of the additions of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis.

"They won a title," he said. "They have that championship swagger. They also know exactly who they are."

Rivers said his team is still establishing its identity, given all of the new faces added to the roster in the offseason. But he is hoping those who have their own championship swagger -- Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry -- can help Boston reach its full potential.