Toronto city council member Norm Kelly is defending Heat star Dwyane Wade for shooting during the Canadian national anthem before Saturday’s loss to the Raptors.
“I empathize with Wade,” Kelly told TMZ on Monday. “I don’t think he intended to be disrespectful ... He should’ve just been more aware. I don’t think we’ll see a repeat of what he did. He’s smart. He’s aware. He’ll know next time.
“Why did Toronto react like they did? It’s because Canada is starting to flex their muscles. We’ve been the junior partner in North America for a long time.”
As both teams were warming up before tip-off in Miami, “O Canada” began to play, seemingly catching several players off guard. While nearly all of the players stopped shooting once the song started, Wade was seen taking a few more practice shots.
On Sunday, Wade responded to the criticism, saying that a timing issue caused his pregame warm up routine to run into the anthem.
“It’s something that I do before every game that I prepare for, and I’ve been doing it my whole career,” Wade said. “So I understand whatever is said from that standpoint, but I’m not a disrespectful person. So if anybody thinks I’m being disrespectful towards a country, then they have no idea of who Dwyane Wade is.”
The NBA has punished players for not respecting the anthem in the past, suspending Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf in 1996.
– Kenny Ducey