With Rasheed Wallace's career potentially over for good, it's time to remember one of the most intriguing, entertaining, and underrated players of the past few decades.
Wallace is set to have season-ending surgery after learning that he had fractured his foot. He's been out with a stress fracture since December 13th, but the injury now seems to be more serious, and he's been ruled out for the next two months, or the remainder of the regular season.
That timetable does mean that he could return to the playoffs, but reinserting the volatile 38-year-old forward into a playoff rotation on the fly could be dangerous, so it seems safe to assume that we've seen the last of Rasheed for the time being.
There is the possibility that he returns to the league next season, but on the verge of 40 it seems as if his services are becoming less and less valuable to teams, and he may be finished for good.
As he and his former North Carolina running mate Jerry Stackhouse are both winding down their incredibly long careers in New York, it's time to appreciate what 'Sheed has given us over nearly two decades.
College and Washington
As a high school phenom, Wallace was given a scholarship to North Carolina where he spent two seasons, including a trip to the Final Four alongside Stackhouse in 1995.
From there 'Sheed outgrew North Carolina, so he entered the draft. Selected No. 4 in the '95 draft, he headed to Washington to start out his career.
It wasn't long before he was on his way out of Washington, as the Bullets traded him to the Portland Trail Blazers following an injury-shortened but still solid rookie year. That's where we got to know Rasheed Wallace as he is today.
Early Portland Days
'Sheed was always a hot-tempered player, even in his college years, but he was relatively subdued early on with the Trail Blazers. Well, at least as far as he is concerned.
He got a bit of playoff experience early on as the late-90s Trail Blazers remained a well-built team around Kenny Anderson and Arvydas Sabonis.
Wallace also came in second place in Sixth Man of the Year voting in the lockout-shortened season back in 1999.
The Jail Blazer Era
It was the 1999-2000 season when Rasheed really became the full-time bad-boy that he would be known as for the majority of his career. He committed a then-record 38 technical fouls in 2000 as David Stern looked at him with a sideways glance from afar.
He broke that record with 41 techs the following season.
During the 2000-01 season in which Rasheed really got the spotlight shone his way for all the wrong reasons, he helped the bad boy look Portland gained by getting into an altercation with one of the few popular players remaining on the roster, flinging a towel into Arvydas Sabonis' face.
Lost to the days of the era in which people weren't obsessed with recording everything and posting it to Youtube, 'Sheed also hosted a Portland-based hip-hop radio program, Jammin', in his heyday with the Trail Blazers.
As the Blazers got tired of their fans leaving games in droves, ashamed of the players on the court, he was shopped a bit for a trade. Unfortunately for the Blazers, that opportunity was killed when he threatened referee Tim Donaghy after a game.
To be fair, after allegations of fixing games came to light later in his career, threatening Tim Donaghy might have been totally reasonable.
Wallace was finally traded the following year as the Trail Blazers traded him to the Atlanta Hawks. Wallace played just one game in Atlanta, creating the coolest, most niche jersey a person could ever own.
10 days after Atlanta traded for him, he was flipped and sent to Detroit where he would become more likable, but not necessarily a more reserved player.
Wallace was always a fun-loving guy, but he didn't continually show it in his earlier days. Constantly dogged by referees (deservedly), 'Sheed tended to be morose and downright surly during games.
He found a sort of family of misfits with Detroit playing with a team with no true star player. They were handful of guys who fit together and worked well together. They seemed to genuinely care for each other.
They won a championship together over the Los Angeles Lakers' super-team experiment in 2004 and became a speed bump for the dynastic 2000s. 'Sheed became a character after that championship monkey had clamored down from off his back and became his fun-loving friend.
Detroit would lose to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2005 Finals and would never achieve the same success, but they would remain a terrific team for a few more years, and would make the playoffs in every year Rasheed was there.
Ball Don't Lie
Perhaps the most lasting impact Wallace will have on the game was his catchphrase he would shout out whenever he felt he was wronged.
If he felt a foul call on him was unjust (which was every foul, ever), and the player he fouled missed the ensuing free throw, 'Sheed would shout to nobody in particular (he knew the rules), "Ball don't lie!"
Sure, Wallace would still argue with referees and get his technical fouls, but more often than not he would settle with his "Ball don't lie!" catchphrase.
It sparked a phenomenon. Yahoo!'s basketball blog adopted the name, kids in pickup games everywhere started shouting it, and we ached for every shout from 'Sheed whenever he was playing. They were magical times.
Detroit wouldn't re-sign Rasheed following the 2009 season, so he would go on to become one of the least popular players in Boston Celtics' history.
He was a fat, slow, three-point chucking version of Rasheed that nobody liked to see, unless of course you were on the other side of the floor.
Rasheed had become less of a character and more of a caricature, and the result left a bad taste in everyone's mouth.
That's why were were all so excited to see Rasheed come back to the NBA at the beginning of this season. We wanted to see the fun, basketball-loving, technical foul-getting Rasheed that we always knew, but we wanted him to be effective as well.
The Knicks were 16-4 with Rasheed in the lineup. Plus we got to see a patented super-quick ejection of Wallace along the way.
People tend to talk about Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant like they're once-in-a-score player. Perhaps you get a guy with that kind of drive every 20 years.
If that's the case then Rasheed Wallace has a once-in-a-lifetime combination of skill, attitude, drive, humor, and downright entertaining basketball.
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