I feel a little silly talking about headbands two days in a row,Though you can blame the schedule-makers for that -- four days between games? What the hell else are we supposed to talk about? but given the general interest in the topic, I figured a follow-up post explaining/resolving some of the issues raised was probably in order.
And with any luck, this will be the last time we talk about what Ben puts on his noggin, unless he gets a hell of a lot more creative than just a headband.
Why does Scott Skiles hate headbands so much in the first place?
Apparently Skiles is merely enforcing a rule laid down by general manager John Paxson. KC Johnson of the Chicago Tribune explains:
[The] reason was to stop the practice of former Bulls such as Eddie Robinson from wearing a headband around his neck or Eddy Curry, in town Tuesday, from wearing one crookedly.
"That rule was borne out of some things I saw when I first got the job that didn't look good," Paxson said. "It was more out of uniformity than anything else. It's not meant in any way to stifle anybody's individuality or creativity. It was just simply part of a structure we were trying to create."
Fair enough. The Bulls were in really bad shape when Paxson took control of the front office, and instilling a sense of professionalism sounds pretty reasonable.
But why can't they make an exception for Wallace?
Maybe they would have if he simply asked first.
"I told [Wallace] the only thing that's a problem is the way he made his feelings known," Paxson said. "That obviously comes across poorly. That's what we have to address. We have rules. We don't have too many. Every team does.
"We have to be a little careful in terms of changing something for one player at this time. If I knew this was going to be an issue a month or two ago and Ben had expressed that to us, that might've been a way to handle it. Right now, we're in a tough position. We have the rule for the right reasons."
But why do they make him tape his ankles if it's uncomfortable?
That was overblown.
The Tribune also reported Wallace had difficulty running during the first practice of training camp because he was unaccustomed to having his ankles taped, a Bulls team rule. Paxson and Skiles responded Monday by saying Wallace and Adrian Griffin haven't had to have their ankles taped since that day because they expressed their dissatisfaction privately.
Aren't the Bulls being a little hypocritical here?
Yeah, I think so, at least when you consider the Bulls use pictures of Ben wearing a headband in their promotional materials.
But this whole incident has never been about the validity of the rule, has it? The way I see it, it's about the fact that Ben knew what the rule was but went ahead and broke it anyway -- twice. He purposefully put Skiles in a position where Skiles would either a) cave in and lose some degree of his authority, or b) put a less talented lineup on the court and risk losing the game. Either way, the integrity of the team was put at risk.
So what now?
I'm guessing everything is water under the bridge, especially the way Skiles is trying to spin this as some kind of team-building experience. Maybe Ben gets fined, maybe he doesn't, but anything like a suspension -- which columnist Sam Smith called for yesterday -- seems unlikely.
What still rubs me the wrong way, though, is that Ben is still too stubborn to admit he's wrong, let alone show any remorse.
"I knew that we weren't allowed to wear the headbands," Wallace said. "If you know the rules and break them, you expect to be punished. I can't try to put myself above the team or anybody else and wear a headband like I did. I'm man enough to take the punishment. But I'm not sorry."
Wallace was blunt when asked why he wore the headband on Saturday night in New York.
"I just felt like wearing it," Wallace said.
I know Ben is a proud guy, but what the hell is wrong with manning up and admitting when you're wrong? I'm not surprised -- he never apologized for refusing to re-enter the Orlando game last year, and that was by far a more serious offense than this. But it's still disappointing. I know some of you are extremely sensitive about any criticism lobbed Ben's way, but this is simply about being a decent human being.
Sadly, I don't think Ben senses the irony is his rationale for wearing the headband in the first place:
Wallace said ex-Pistons teammate Clifford Robinson helped him start his practice of wearing a headband.
"He told me I should try it and that's a reminder not to let my head get too big in this league," Wallace said.
Too late, guy.