We got a little nostalgic last week reminiscing about Bill Laimbeer and the rest of the old school Bad Boys. But of the current Pistons, no player more closely embodies Laimbeer's attitude and spirit than Rasheed Wallace. Plus, long-time fans can't help but see the similarity in their games: they're both big men with three-point range, which has always been a rarity in the NBA. (In fact, you could argue that Wallace is the player that Laimbeer would have been had Lambs, you know, been born with actual athletic ability.)
But the comparisons don't end there, as both players have also spent most of their careers being misunderstood by just about everyone but their teammates. Both are animated on the court, and both have often been a victim of their reputation, resulting in a rocky rapport with the referees.
But while Rasheed Wallace may not be a favorite with the refs -- having just earned a one-game suspension for accruing one too many technical fouls -- there are plenty of reasons for all of us fans to love him, not the least of which being the above picture of him with fellow Philadelphia legend Wilt Chamberlain. From the far depths of the internet I bring back into the light this classic site: Elevatorman's Unofficial Rasheed Wallace Home Page.
Largely based on college anecdotes, the Elevatorman compiled "100 Reasons Why We Love Rasheed Wallace." It's a worthy read for any fan of Sheed or the Pistons. (Update: that old Geocities page has disappeared, but not before someone copied the complete list here.) Here are some highlights:
1. Got thrown out of the McDonald's All-American Game.
4. Tried to psych up his teammates by yelling, "Let's go out and play like we're Chicago on NBA Jam."
12. When he was introduced at Dick Vitale-hosted midnight madness during his freshman year, he threw his head back, arched his back, and roared into the rafters.
24. He avoided interviews following games because he was in the training room calling his moms.
46. In his first weekend in heaven at a notably sizable fraternal function, he was reportedly seen dancing in such a way as to allow his denim shorts to dip well below his knees, revealing his underpants, also dangling lower than is socially acceptable.
61. 2/23/94, Notre Dame, Ind., North Carolina 80, Notre Dame 71, received first technical foul as a Tar Heel.
71. In 1994 pre-tournament interview with Tom Suter drew the profound metaphor between team chemistry and jello... "See, we are like the dust... we just need to be mixed in right so we can gel."
98. At Duke game in Chapel Hill during his first NBA season, as freshman Vince Carter, struggling to get playing time, was just trying to concentrate on the game as he walked to the scorer's table, Rasheed yelled to him, "VINCE! VINCE! I know you hear me! You better look over here or I'm gonna slap you upside the head!"
100. "We had some phantom technical fouls called when we had Rasheed. I know that. He'd just scream, he was so happy with a dunk and the next thing you know it's a technical foul. If I ever dunked, I would have screamed. If I'd go up and sky and dunk one, I'd scream too." --college basketball's all-time winningest coach Dean E. Smith
Digging a little deeper on the site, I unearthed this anecdote from one of Rasheed's first practices at Chapel Hill:
The following is my favorite Sheed story as told by a man who witnessed all happen... First team scrimmage Ra's freshman year. Montross and Salvadori had been pushing Ra up and down the court, double teaming him down low, and talkin' shit the whole time. Evidently Ra went up for a turn around "J" in the lane only to have Montross and Salvadori club him and block his shot... each telling him to never bring that shit inside again. Next time down the court Ra caught a ball coming off of the rim at which time he did one of his backboard shaking monster dunks (a 9.5 on Pat Sullivan's grading scale) on Montross and Salvadori. Upon landing on his feet Ra pushed Montross into Salvadori and yelled, "You better recognize.. Motherf***er! Your job is mine!" This outburst infuriated Montross as he chased Ra down the court as the entire team tried to break it up. Ra ran laps for the rest of the practice.
There are more than just 100 reasons to love Sheed -- the site expanded after Rasheed moved on to the pros:
On the zebras: "A lot of them cats are felonious, man."
On Portland GM John Nash stating that Rasheed Wallace is more talented than Kenyon Martin, but Kenyon Martin is more tenacious: "I don't give a shit what John Nash thinks...You see where his thinking got him...You all got anything else?"
"Some people say I'm mean and this and that. On one hand that's cool. That keeps away all the riffraff and all the bugaboos." -- R. Wallace
"Every time he took a shot he said `Don't worry young fella, I get paid for this. I get paid for doing this to you'," - Kwame Brown
"...In college it was win, win, win. I don't like losing. I've never had to deal with losing. When I'm out there on the floor, I might yell or do this or that. I'm trying to get the win. My whole bottom line is getting that 'W.' I might be more vocal or more fierce than the next player, and I get labeled a knucklehead. That comes from people who don't know me, who just see me one night out of 365 days. "
Much props to the Elevatorman for compiling all of this -- it's a freaking goldmine to the legions of Rasheed Wallace and Pistons fans out there.
It obviously didn't take long for Rasheed to become a fan favorite in Detroit after the Pistons acquired him almost two and a half years ago. So, tell us in the comments, what are some of your favorite Rasheed memories since he's arrived?
Hi! Call me Elevatorman. [Elevatorman's Unofficial Rasheed Wallace Home Page]