“Ball don’t lie.” WWE-style championship belts. “Both teams played hard (snicker, snicker).” ‘SHEEEEEEED!
Now that we’ve got that out of our system, do we really need to take seriously any speculation that former NBA big man Rasheed Wallace is thinking about a comeback with the New York Knicks? With anybody, for that matter?
The man turned 38 last week. He hasn’t played in the NBA in more than two years — since June 17, 2010, to be exact, when he filled in for Boston’s injured Kendrick Perkins and nearly needed oxygen while logging more than 35 minutes. In the Celtics’ Game 7 Finals loss in Los Angeles, Wallace scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds before fouling out.
‘Sheed, by that point, was a role player. His 9.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 22.5 minutes per game were the lowest numbers of his career. On a 36-minute basis — 14.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg — they were right at his career averages (14.6, 6.7). But there was a message being sent by the rims of the NBA, because the 3-point shot that he increasingly favored (5.9 attempts per 36 minutes, highest of his 15 seasons) was successful just 28.3 percent of the time.
Besides, Wallace by his own admission wasn’t in shape at age 35 — any more than he had been at 34, 33 … (you get the idea). He said he planned to work out with Philadelphia pal and prizefighter Bernard Hopkins before the 2010-11 season. Instead, Wallace retired.
So factor that in when considering reports from ESPN.com and now Newsday that Wallace worked out with the Knicks’ Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas — oh, the cartilage! — and that New York is thinking of signing him.
Wallace, 38, hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2009-10 season. But multiple sources said Wallace worked out at the Knicks’ practice facility last week and is considering a return to the NBA. He has a good relationship with Knicks coach Mike Woodson, who was an assistant with Detroit when Wallace helped the Pistons win the 2004 NBA championship.
Wallace was one of the NBA’s more intriguing characters during his playing days, which began in 1995 when he was picked one spot ahead of Kevin Garnett. He erupted at referees and regularly stiffed reporters, proved himself to be a beloved teammate and crafted something of a “lovable villain” image not quite as accessible or loquacious as Charles Barkley’s.
Wallace also often seemed to modulate his performances, teasing with his talent and making coaches and fans wonder if a career 20/10 guy lurked inside him, if only he’d gone harder, cared more or played closer to the basket. (He never did average 20 points or 10 rebounds in a season.)
It’s fun to belt out ” ‘SHEEEEEEED!” and laugh about his technical fouls, his fines, his rudeness to the media and his personality. It’s conceivable that the Knicks could slot him in as a low-cost backup and that Wallace could miss the game, the life and maybe the paychecks enough to return.
But chances are, ball won’t lie.