AUBURN HILLS — When the Boston Celtics came back to play at The Palace for the second time, former Piston Rasheed Wallace told me it still felt like home.
No one can dispute that Wallace was the key piece in the Pistons puzzle that propelled them to one NBA title, two NBA Finals and five Eastern Conference Finals during his time in Detroit.
Some always complained Sheed should be in the post, he argues with referees too much and has better talent than the results.
I say to heck with all the should have, could have stuff. I really believe that eight times out of 10 what a player produces is probably what they have to offer. I believe in the Dramatics song, “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get.”
Wallace teased us all with his flash of greatness; he has been an All-Star and has helped teams compete for a NBA title in Detroit and Portland.
Now “the big fella” is in Boston playing for a franchise that has won an incredible 17 NBA titles and won one as recently as 2008. Injuries opened the door last year for Orlando to squeeze its way as the Eastern Conference representative.
“Kevin (Garnett) got hurt last year and that knocked the team off track,” Wallace said. “That’s why they wanted me to come here. I’m insurance and a ‘Big’ that can take some minutes away from the other front court players.
“This is a good team. The way they conduct themselves, the coaching and the understanding of what it will take to get back to the title. It is impressive. All you have to do is look around at all the championships, and if that does not fire you up, nothing will.”
As the NBA season winds down to its conclusion, the Celtics and Wallace have the third best record in the East. They have endured an array of injuries and have lost some steam from that great 20-4 start.
Wallace said he likes the fact that his minutes are down from his Detroit days (23 per game) and hopes that will make him fresh for the playoffs. The fact of the matter is his shooting percentage is hovering at .40 percent and his three-point shooting in way down at 28 percent, although he is shooting free throws at close to 80 percent. He has played in all but three of the Celtics games.
“It has been a up and down season thus far,” Wallace acknowledged. “I have not shot as well as I know I can. But I feel good that when they need me in the playoffs I’ll be able to produce for this team.”
One thing Wallace is still doing is coaching. He has always talked the game in practice and helps the younger players with his earned wisdom as a 14-year veteran.
“From the time he has been here, he has been a great teammate,” said Celtics young center Kendrick Perkins. “He brings positive energy to the team. I was kind of surprised because I did not know what kind of person he was. All the time in practice he is talking to the “Bigs” about position, shots and just the game in general.”
Added Glen Davis, the Celtics other young center: “Rasheed is a great teammate and just a great person. You hear about all the techs and what writers say about him, but he is a real person.”
The Pistons fans were very nice to Wallace both times I went to the game. That surprised me somewhat. But I guess since we now have a team that has no chance to make the playoffs, many are probably reflecting and finally really acknowledging the wonderful basketball that had been played in The Palace.
“I’ll always have Detroit in my heart,” Wallace told me. “When I look back this is where we won it all and came close a couple other times. It is cool to see the fans respect what we did here as a team.”
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