007nites Presents: Rasheed Wallace
Full Name: Rasheed Abdul Wallace
Born: September 17, 1974 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
High School: Simon Gratz (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
College: North Carolina (1993-1995)
Drafted By: Washington Bullets, 4th Overall, 1995 NBA Draft
Height: 6-11 ; Weight: 245lbs
Position: Power Forward
Career Statistics - NBA (1995-2013)
G - 1,109
FG% - .467
3PFG% - .336
FT% - .721
Points - 16,006
PPG - 14.4
Rebounds - 7,404
RPG - 6.7
Assists - 1,994
APG - 1.8
Blocks - 1,460
BPG - 1.3
Steals - 1,090
SPG - 1.0
1 X NBA Champion
4 X NBA All-Star
NBA All-Rookie Second Team
1995 NCAA All-American Second Team
USA Today High School Player of the Year
1993 First Team All-America
1993 McDonalds All-American
Wallace was born and raised in the inner-city neighborhoods of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he began his basketball career and attended Simon Gratz High School.
During his high school years, Wallace was taught the fundamentals of basketball. Couple that with his natural ability, and he was a force to be reckoned with. He also learned that what mattered was a team win, so he would pass the ball to other players and ask to be taken out of the game so other team members could play whenever Gratz had a big enough lead. Despite limited playing time of just 19 minutes per game, Wallace averaged 16 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocks his senior year. In addition to playing basketball, Wallace also ran track and did the high jump. During high school he was named USA Today's High School Player of the Year for the 1992-93 season and was selected to Basketball Digest's All-America First Team. And though he was more known for basketball, Wallace also received honors as a sprinter, ranking fourth in the Philadelphia area.
Wallace's athletic prowess soon brought the attention of college scouts and coaches from around the country. He spoke with numerous coaches, who highlighted their school's program as well as bashed other colleges, including the University of North Carolina (UNC). UNC's reputation for getting the best athletes to play but relegating them to second and third string until it was time for them to shine was attractive to Wallace. Coach Dean Smith of the men's college basketball program at UNC did, however, make an effort to recruit Wallace, even skipping his team's championship parade to talk the high school student. The 6'11" forward signed with UNC.
University of North Carolina coach Dean Smith recruited Wallace to Chapel Hill, North Carolina for his college years. Smith was a revered mentor both to Wallace and Wallace's eventual Detroit coach Larry Brown. Wallace has indicated that this North Carolina bond with Brown helped him adjust quickly to the Pistons system. During his brief time at North Carolina, Wallace had success in the national spotlight. He was named a second-team All-American by the AP his second year at UNC.
Wallace and fellow future NBA player Jerry Stackhouse helped lead the Tar Heels to the NCAA Final Four in 1995. He left North Carolina to enter the 1995 NBA Draft after his sophomore season, being selected with the fourth pick overall by the Washington Bullets.
As a rookie with the Bullets, Wallace played in 65 games, of which he started 51 for the injured Chris Webber. Wallace was selected to the rookie team for the All-Star Weekend. Later that year, he fractured his left thumb during a game against Orlando and did not return until the following year.
After the season, Wallace was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Rod Strickland, a move that proved beneficial for both sides: Strickland averaged 17.2 ppg and 8.9 apg after the trade, helping the Bullets make the playoffs in 1997 for the first time in eight seasons, and upped those stats to 17.8 ppg and a league-leading 10.5 apg the following year. Meanwhile, Wallace ranked third in the league in field goal percentage. However, just as his season was gaining momentum, Wallace again broke his left thumb and was forced to miss the next month of the season, but he returned in time for a strong performance in the first round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers, which the Trail Blazers lost.
Next season, he signed a long-term contract to stay with the Trail Blazers. He began extending himself into the community more than ever, most notably with his Rasheed Wallace Foundation, but his career suffered from numerous missteps on and off the court. He set an NBA record with 38 technical fouls for the season. However, he would be fifth in the league in field goal percentage. The following year, he broke his own record with 40 technicals. Wallace was also suspended by the NBA for seven games for threatening then-referee Tim Donaghy on an arena loading dock after a home game in 2003. That was the league's longest suspension for an offense that did not involve violence or substance abuse.
While his teammates and head coach Mike Dunleavy tried to downplay Wallace's antics by talking to him both on and off the court, it soon took a toll on a team already at odds with one another over various things including playing time. Even though he would help the team make it to the playoffs every year starting in 1996, and twice reach the Western Finals, many were ready for a change. Wallace and fellow player, Damon Stoudamire, did not help the team's image by getting arrested after marijuana was found in the vehicle they were in. The charges were later dropped after each completed community service, stayed out of legal trouble, and underwent drug and alcohol counseling. But the damage had been done. Though it was not the first time a Portland Trail Blazer had been arrested, by the early 2000s this incident and others had earned the team a new nickname: the Portland Jail Blazers.
Wallace was named an NBA All-Star in 2000 and 2001 and led the Trail Blazers to the Western Conference Finals in 1999 and 2000, losing to the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers, respectively. Both teams would go on to win the NBA Finals. The 2000 series against the Lakers was most noted for the underdog Blazers squandering a 15-point lead going into the fourth quarter of Game 7.
On February 9, 2004, Wallace was traded to the Atlanta Hawks along with Wesley Person for Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Theo Ratliff, and Dan Dickau. Wallace played only one game for the Hawks, scoring 20 points. He also had six rebounds, five blocks, two assists and a steal in a close loss against the New Jersey Nets. Wallace was again traded, in a deal that saw him go from the Hawks along with guard Mike James from the Celtics to the Pistons. In turn, Detroit sent guards Chucky Atkins, Lindsey Hunter, and a first-round draft pick to Boston and guard Bob Sura, center Zeljko Rebraca, and a first-round draft pick to Atlanta. Boston also sent forward Chris Mills to Atlanta to complete the deal.
After falling behind against the Indiana Pacers in the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals, he stated boldly in an interview that "We will win Game 2," a promise he helped fulfill. Wallace helped the Pistons win an unexpected NBA title, beating the heavily favored Lakers four games to one. After the championship season, he paid for replica WWE World Heavyweight Championship belts to be made for each of his teammates and presented them as gifts when the 2004–05 regular season started. In the off-season following the Pistons' championship win, Wallace signed a five-year, $57 million contract to remain with Detroit. He also changed the number of his jersey from #30 to #36.
Throughout the 2004–05 season, Wallace often carried the belt into his locker before games to inspire the Pistons' title defense. He had several notable moments in the playoffs. After the second-round elimination of the Pacers, Wallace played his best series of the postseason in the Eastern Conference finals against the top-seeded Miami Heat. After falling behind again, he again "guaranteed success". He shot a 50% field goal percentage and averaged 14.5 points per game in the series' seven games, and saved his hottest-shooting night for the decisive Game 7. Against the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, Wallace was criticized for leaving Robert Horry open for the game-winning three-pointer in Game 5. Wallace's defense and clutch shooting helped the Pistons to split the series 3–3, but in the final game, the Pistons lost 81–74.
In the 2005–06 season, he helped lead them to a 64–18 record, and the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the playoffs. The Pistons beat the Milwaukee Bucks, 4–1 in the first round and then beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 4–3 in the second round of the playoffs. In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pistons played the Heat in a rematch of the previous year's Conference Finals. The Pistons lost in six games to the Miami Heat, who went on to capture their first NBA title.
On March 26, 2007, in a game against the Denver Nuggets, Wallace threw up a 60-foot shot off a stolen inbound pass with 1.5 seconds remaining and banked it in from just behind halfcourt to force overtime letting out a huge roar from what was left of the diminishing Palace crowd, who had assumed the game to be a loss. The Pistons went on to win the game, 113–109.
On February 10, 2008, it was announced that Wallace would be replacing Boston Celtics' injured forward Kevin Garnett in the 2008 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans. The decision was made by NBA commissioner David Stern. This was Wallace's fourth All-Star appearance.
In the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals, the Pistons played Garnett and the Celtics. This marked the sixth consecutive time that the Pistons had made it to this point, and five times they had gotten there with Wallace in the lineup. Still, Detroit lost a third consecutive year in the Conference Finals, losing to Boston 4–2. After the game, Wallace reportedly told reporters, without taking any questions, "It's over, man," perhaps indicating that Pistons' General Manager Joe Dumars would break up the core of the team following the defeat. He changed his number from 36 back to his original 30, perhaps to change his and the team's fortunes, but sure enough, Dumars did indeed break up the core: at the beginning of the 2008–09 season, Dumars traded longtime starting point guard and 2004 Finals MVP Chauncey Billups to Denver. It was to be Wallace's last year with the team; after the season came to a close, Wallace and the Pistons decided to part ways.
Wallace signed a three-year contract with the Boston Celtics on July 8, 2009.During the regular season, Wallace struggled, averaging career lows in points per game and rebounds per game. Also, he shot 28% on three pointers and 40% from the field. The Celtics reached the NBA Finals in 2010 but lost the series to the Los Angeles Lakers four games to three. In Game 6 of the Finals, the Celtics' starting center Kendrick Perkins injured his right knee, so Wallace started Game 7. In Game 7, Wallace scored 11 points and was 5 of 11 from the field in the loss. Wallace's agent Bill Strickland announced on June 25, 2010 that Wallace would likely retire from the NBA, which was made official on August 10, following the buyout of his contract by the Celtics.
On October 3, 2012, Wallace came out of retirement, and signed with the New York Knicks. On February 27, 2013, Wallace announced that he had a broken left foot and was expected to miss eight weeks. He was scheduled for surgery. On April 17, 2013, Wallace announced his second retirement.
While winning championships and being on a team that understood his work ethic was important to Wallace, being a great father and loving husband has always been of equal or greater importance. In addition to his son Ishmiel, Wallace and his wife, Fatima, also had another son, Nazir, and a daughter, Rashiyah. Wallace adopted Fatima's son from a previous relationship, Malik. Wallace believes in being there for his children and even gave his wife the final say in whether he would sign with Detroit.
Though Wallace has long had a reputation as an ungrateful prima donna, very few fans know of his charitable work throughout his career. He began the Rasheed Wallace Foundation in 1997 to provide help in Portland, Philadelphia, and Durham, North Carolina. The Foundation sponsored annual coat drives, food drives, and provided grants for inner city schools and recreation centers in the three cities. Wallace also sponsored teams that needed assistance in reaching basketball tournaments. He held annual basketball camps in Philadelphia and Durham for children who hoped to reach their goals of being a professional basketball player. Finally, he has participated in the NBA's Read to Achieve program and become involved with Detroit's Kettering High School
In his spare time, Wallace pursues his love of art by doodling or visiting art museums. He also deejayed a radio show on Portland's Jammin' 95.5 radio station. He's an avid fan of pop art and collects cartoon figurines, especially Transformers, a popular cartoon from his youth.
For those who know him well, Wallace is a cool, laid-back person, one who loves his family and gives back to the community. Others, however, use terms such as stubborn, immature, and maniacal in their description of him. As he stated to the Detroit Free Press: "Everybody is not going to like you. Everybody is not going to like what you do. Fifty percent like you, 50 percent hate you. You just gotta keep walking that straight path." What no one can dispute is Wallace's talent for the game of basketball and his ability to not only win games, but also championships.
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