Jared Dudley embraced the hate.
Every time the Nets forward touched the ball during Game 5 on Tuesday he heard more than 20,000 boos from the assembled spectators at the Wells Fargo Center.
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Twice during stoppages he heard the obligatory: “Dudley sucks! Dudley sucks!”
Did he ever: No points, one rebound, zero-for-3 from the field in almost 18 minutes of a closeout game the Nets lost, 122-100. A below-average performance, to be sure. And, as a rater of skills, he would know.
What put Dudley in the crosshairs of the most passionate fans in sports?
First, Dudley called Sixers guard Ben Simmons’ halfcourt skills “average” before Game 3.
Then, in the third quarter of Game 4 on Saturday, after Joel Embiid flagrantly fouled Jarrett Allen, Dudley pushed Embiid, which precipitated a retaliatory push from Jimmy Butler. Both Dudley, a role player, and Butler, a star, were ejected.
All of which framed Tuesday night’s inhospitable atmosphere. He’s not, say, Sidney Crosby, but he’s about one hard foul from having his picture placed in urinals.
Dudley accepted it all with grace and humor.
“Aw, man, you always hear the noise!” he said afterward. “They’re good ol’ Philly fans!”
Dudley knows the drill. He’s is in his 12th NBA season and is playing for his sixth team. He has never averaged more than 12.7 points and has started in about 25 percent of his games. He carries a decidedly undefined 237 pounds on his 6-foot-7 frame. Bald-headed and head-banded, he looks like the third guy you’d pick at a lunchtime YMCA pickup game. If Will Ferrell ever makes another basketball movie, Dudley would be perfect.
He is the archetype of a journeyman. His role this series: irritate the Sixers. Which he did. To little effect.
He certainly irritated the fans. He loved it.
“I respect that, to be honest with you,” he said. "You want to be cheering on your team. Getting on the opponent.
“I have nothing but respect for the Philly fans. That’s how basketball is supposed to be. It’s not supposed to be nice during it.”
It will never be nice for Dudley in Philly ... until, of course, he becomes a Sixer.
He’s exactly the sort of irritant Philly fans love.
And he’s a free agent.