Matthew Dellavedova says he is not an NBA brute on a mission to hurt, irritate or target opponents.
The Australian point guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers is also adamant he did not intentionally strike Golden State Warriors veteran Andre Iguodala in the genitals in Thursday’s game one of the NBA finals.
“Not at all,” Dellavedova said when asked if his role on the team was to shake up rival players.
He was accused in last year’s NBA playoffs of dirty and dangerous tactics, and caused the new firestorm on Thursday in game one of the championship series won by the Warriors 104-89.
He was attempting to foul Iguodala late in the third quarter and struck him on the genitals.
“I definitely didn’t intend to hit him anywhere near that region,” Dellavedova said.
“I was trying to get his arm and then he brought his arm in and that’s when I just grazed his arm.”
Iguodala erupted on the court and had to be separated from Dellavedova, but both players were eager on Friday to put the incident behind them.
Game two of the best-of-seven series will be played on Sunday (Monday AEST).
Dellavedova says his focus is on improving his role as leader of the Cavaliers’ second unit, which had a disastrous game.
The Warriors’ bench outscored the Cavaliers’ bench 45-10 in the opener.
Iguodala, 32, named NBA finals MVP after last year’s title win over the Cavaliers, praised Dellavedova for being “a competitor” who is “trying to play hard and trying to make his team win”.
“No, not at all,” Iguodala said, when asked if he holds a grudge against the Australian.
“Last night after the game I was asked if I think he was a dirty player.
“It’s not up to me to judge him.
“We talk about different guys in the league and their roles in this league and some guys their role is to get down to the nitty gritty, get grimy and be physical and that’s how they eat, make a living and you can never hold anything against them for that.
“You can only praise them, it’s like ‘That guy understands his role’ and he embraces it so I can respect that.”