MIAMI — For making an obscene gesture toward heckling fans, Dwyane Wade was fined $15,000 by the NBA and even had his phone and television privileges revoked at home by his family.
He knows it was wrong.
He also hopes it can spur some change.
Wade has asked the NBA to further improve the ways it protects players from the most unruly of fans, making that request during the league's brief investigation of his incident with the crowd in Charlotte on Wednesday night.
"The NBA is an unbelievable league, and I'm one of the first ones to be doing NBA Cares and all these things in the community, but they need to protect us a little more," Wade told The Associated Press. "They need to do a better job of protecting players in the arena. It's open game on us. We're big boys, we can take it, but everyone has their breaking point."
The fine was the first time Wade, in his 12th season, has been punished by the league for gesturing at or interacting negatively with fans.
The incident occurred after the third quarter of Miami's loss to the Hornets. Wade said a number of fans were saying things about his wife, actress Gabrielle Union, and that the comments got progressively worse as the night went along. He lost his cool, approaching the group with the middle finger raised on one of his hands.
The next day, Wade said his children took away his phones and his TV rights.
"House rules," Wade said, "for disrespecting the family name."
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said players and coaches hear plenty of negativity from the crowd, though he's learned to laugh at some of it — like the time in New York when a fan told the youthful-looking Spoelstra that he needed to go to bed because it was a school night.
"Players are humans and some of the things that fans say does cross the line," Spoelstra said. "It doesn't give you the right to snap back at them with some kind of response but it's usually at an emotional time. ... A handful of times a year you hear it and you see it where they've crossed the line and what it requires is you being the better person and not responding."
Wade said he's reacted in the past with words, just not gestures. He also said that he's told the league about other concerns regarding fans, particularly when situations where ticketholders have seats immediately next to a team's bench, a scenario that Wade said he finds uncomfortable.
He also knows that regardless of what the NBA and arena security personnel do, the issue of fans potentially going too far will never be nonexistent.
"You can talk about me all day," Wade said. "I really don't care what you say about me because I know at the end of the day when I walk off that court most of those guys would see me in the back hallway and want to shake my hand. When it gets too personal about your family, that's too far. But it's not going to stop."
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