Ladies and gentlemen, it is finally official. The Great Rasheed Wallace is lacing up his sneakers once more and is coming out of retirement to play for the New York Knicks. Wallace was last seen plodding his way up the Los Angeles Lakers’ home court in a Game 7 NBA Finals loss. Shortly afterward, Sheed announced his retirement from the game of basketball and was generally quiet after that. Just the same, some rumors began to surface that me might return. At first, discussion revolved around him resigning with the Celtics. Next everyone was certain he was going to the Lakers.
Then, for a few short months, everything went cold. There were no rumors, his agent said nothing, and even Rasheed Wallace himself was uncharacteristically quiet. Fast forward to today, and Rasheed is busting back on the scene. Wallace had a lengthy and dwindling career when he abruptly cut it short. The four-time NBA All Star had a rough final season with the Boston Celtics, but nonetheless seemed to have some left in the tank upon his retirement. Retiring young is not overly uncommon, especially for big men, but something about quitting at age 35 didn’t seem right for the league’s all time leader in technical fouls. Despite that obviously false stat, Wallace never committed one single foul in his entire NBA career; at least, that’s what he tried to tell the refs. Maybe Wallace’s return is his way of sticking it to our beloved commissioner, David Stern who was never a fan of Wallace being the most quotable player in the game. Maybe the Second Coming of Rasheed is some kind of poetic justice for the bias of ref Joey Crawford.
Either way, Rasheed Wallace, The Human Technical, has returned. The thing that intrigued me the most about Wallace’ sudden comeback was the team he signed with. Wallace is 38 years old. He is not going to play like he is a rookie, so he should not expect teams to come lining up to sign him up. Just the same, the New York Knicks are going to be an interesting fit for him. This is by no means a situation where the reasoning is obvious. The Knicks have a solid front court sporting both Amare Stoudamire and Tyson Chandler. Just the same, the addition of Wallace is not going to throw anything off. Championships are won on depth, defense, and experience, three things Rasheed can bring to the table for New York. At the worst, Wallace takes up a spot on the bench that could have been filled with some second-rate bum out of the D-League. At his best he comes off the bench for Tyson Chandler and posts 10 and 5 every night. Heck, if Sheed does not rack up one single solitary minute in a New York Knicks uniform, he will have helped the team. Sometimes, all it takes is a solid defensive presence to turn around a franchise. Look at the 2007 Celtics. Nothing really memorable about them, is there? Enter Kevin Garnett, and suddenly; a veteran defensive minded basketball scholar changes the persona and attitude of the whole team. If there is any team that could use an attitude adjustment, it’s the Knickerbockers. (Here’s looking at you, Carmelo.)
Rasheed Wallace, while known for his loose-cannon nature, will bring some serious stability to the Knicks locker room. I’m not suggesting he is going to carry them into the Finals. To be honest, I’m not even sure if the Knicks will see the playoffs this year. Just for a moment look beyond the parties of the Knicks and Rasheed. The beauty of this deal is that it gives one of the greatest big men ever another chance to grace the court. The fans of old can rejoice, and the new fans can experience a personality and game that they sorely missed out on since becoming fans in the first place. Rasheed Wallace is back, NBA. Ready or not, here he comes.
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