RASHEED WALLACE TEAM PLAYER
For the last two playoff games we've watched Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace become a scoring machine in the third quarter. He sensed that guards Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton were struggling with their shots.
So Wallace took over as Pistons gunner.
He poured in 29 the opening night and followed that with an efficient 15-point night in Game 2. He appears to be able to score whenever he wants.
So why isn't Rasheed Wallace a consistent scoring machine on a team that so often in the past needed a big time scoring machine?
The answer lies in Philadelphia where Wallace returns to play his first playoff game in his home town. The Pistons face the outmanned Sixers holding a 2-0 lead in this best of seven Eastern Conference laugher. Game 3 is Friday night and the series could conclude Sunday.
This is Wallace's home town. It is where he does plenty of charity work in the offseason. He spent time here with his family last summer after turning down a chance to play for Team USA in the Athens Olympics. Few people know the story, but Wallace told me several weeks ago that home, family and rest in the summer mean more to him than anything else.
"They asked me and I said no," Wallace said of his Olympic opportunity. "I value my time with my family. That is a two year commitment. The summer before the Olympics and then the actual games. That is a lot of time away from my family. I could not do that. And then two years of playing? As much pounding as we take on our bodies? No."
He also loves to return to Philadelphia.
And this is where we unlock the mystery of Rasheed Wallace the basketball player. He was taught at early age to share the basketball and look for ways to win and not make himself look better.
He played on talented high school and AAU teams where he often was not the first option despite wonderful talents.
Wallace was taught to read games. He knows he can do so many things on the court but his main focus is what does the team need, not what he wants. If he sees that Hamilton or Billups are shooting the lights out, then Wallace concentrates on rebounding, defending and passing.
If Ben Wallace is having an off night then Rasheed hits the boards more and helps out with interior defense.
Fans from Portland and Detroit have screamed for him to take over games offensively. They believe he is not asserting himself. He is simply being himself.
In a game where so many are so selfish, Rasheed Wallace is one of the most team oriented guys in the NBA.
"I learned that you accomplish more as a team than just play as one person," Wallace said. "Look at one of the best persons to ever play the game. Michael Jordan had tremendous talent, but he could not win a title without the other four guys on the court and his bench. So he had to set aside some personal accolades for the betterment of the team.
Plus growing up in Philadelphia I played with tremendous collegiate type players and we just played team ball all the time."
Wallace views himself as a piece of the puzzle, not the center of attention.
So if you are standing around waiting for him to demand the ball like so many in this league do, then you are in for a disappointment.
Then again if he senses teammates struggling with their shots, then that is when Rasheed Wallace turns gunner