There's a fine line between playing hard and playing dirty.
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova teeters along it every game.
Last year, Delly became something of a folk hero in the NBA Finals. But throughout the playoffs, the Australian point guard was at the center of several controversial plays involving Kyle Korver, Al Horford and Taj Gibson.
The Korver play, in particular, was heavily scrutinized since it knocked the Atlanta Hawks' sniper out of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Months later, the Los Angeles Times polled a slew of NBA coaches, assistants and players. Sure enough, Dellavedova was voted the league's dirtiest player.
Here's what Broderick Turner of the Times wrote:
The 24 people who spoke anonymously—some of them voted for more than one player—listed their top five dirtiest players:
Dellavedova received 13 votes. Oklahoma City center Steven Adams was next with seven votes. Golden State center Andrew Bogut (5), Memphis forward Matt Barnes (4) and Oklahoma City forward Serge Ibaka (2) rounded out the top five.
One Western Conference coach said that Dellavedova is "as dirty as they come. When you're hurting people, that is not OK."
An assistant from the East, who was described as "old-school," disagreed. He said Delly is just a scrapper:
He ain't dirty. He just plays hard. See, guys resent people that play hard because they don't want to play hard. So if a guy plays hard, he's dirty. He's not dirty. He just plays hard. People question the play he made in the playoffs against Korver. I just think it was poor judgment.
"A younger coach" in the East said what Dellavedova does "ain't intentional" but it is instead "goofy." He "is accidentally dirty. He can't help himself. He's a quality backup point guard."
While interesting, this is not surprising.
Regardless of what his peers and opposing coaches think, Dellavedova isn't going to change how he plays.