Ryan Hollins took the news that he was voted No. 11 in a Sports Illustrated players poll of the NBA’s dirtiest players just like most everyone else did:
“You said what?”
Hollins laughed, shook his head, and noted, “I’ll take that as a compliment, I guess.”
The 27-year old center had some Boston Celtics company on the All-Dirty team: Kevin Garnett was No. 2.
“If KG is number two, I’ll take that as a compliment,” said Hollins. “I must have frustrated some guys I played against.”
Frustrated some opponents, sure. Hollins was once suspended two games for hitting Deshawn Stevenson and, later in the same game, elbowing Dirk Nowitzki in his head. But still, Hollins is unaware of what makes him a dirty player.
“I don’t know,” he said, then paused. ”When I play, I try to do things to disrupt the guys I’m playing against — frustrating them, getting under their skin a little bit, taking charges, the little things. Nothing dirty. I don’t want to do anything to hurt anybody, anything outside the lines of basketball.
“Wow, I’m just surprised.”
But still, he must have known about the poll before some idiotic reporter approached him in the locker room.
“No, I had no idea,” he said, shaking his head again and sounding incredulous. “I’m just a guy who plays hard and wants to win.”
The voting might have been a little different if it had been taken today. Ron Artest — err, Metta World Peace — might have been higher than No. 3 if his elbow on James Harden was taken into account.
“Yeah, Ron — Ron’s probably number one on that.”
The players voted Reggie Evans No. 1.
“Yeah, Reggie’s gotta be number one.”
(Editor’s note: Yes, that makes two number ones.)
Especially after what Evans did to Chris Kaman a few years back, he might have a lifetime hold on the top spot.
“Oh yeah. Yeah. You know, that’s what makes him difficult to play against,” he said. I waited for something like, Because you never know when he might grab you by the balls.
But Hollins was more measured. “He gets his actions going, he gets under your skin, you can easily get rattled when you play against him.”
Hollins talked for a little while about far more important (and boring) things, like how he’s adjusted to Boston’s defensive schemes (“The defensive schemes aren’t tough at all”), the Celtics’ willingness to help new teammates along (“The whole team, just the whole atmosphere here, from the coaching staff to the players, the veterans — everyone’s hands on and willing to help you out if you have a question, go out of their way to give you some advice”), Hollins’ disappointment with his own play against the Heat (“Tonight was a tough night. I felt a little off. It’s just something to build off, watch some film and be better going into the next game”), and what it’s like playing alongside Rajon Rondo (“You can definitely get points just by being out there and running”).
But the conversation inevitably returned to the dirtiest players poll when it was noted that maybe next year Hollins should shoot for 10th on the list.
“Man, I don’t think so. Was my name, like, by an asterisk at the bottom of the list?”
Nope, no asterisk.
“Like, was I in the fine print, the honorable mention?”
Not exactly. The list was written in slideshow form, used large print and even had Hollins’ picture alongside the print.
“Wow. I don’t even know how to take that.”
Neither did most others.