The New York Knicks' Rasheed Wallace has been, by all accounts, a pretty versatile player in his storied NBA career. The former All-Star can stretch the floor as a power forward or center, hit the glass, play decent defense and even block shots despite his lack of athleticism.
However, the one thing that Wallace does better than perhaps any player in league history is get tossed. 'Sheed is a connoisseur of the ejection and actually set an NBA record for most technical fouls accrued in a single season with 41 during his 2000-01 campaign with the Portland Trail Blazers.
During his 16-year NBA career, Rasheed Wallace has been voted to the All-Star team four times, earned All-Rookie honors and been the catalyst for a remarkable 2004 Detroit Pistons championship run, but his legacy will most likely be his constant clashes with officials, and his habit of leaving the arena long before the game was finished.
First of all, some rules have to be established. Shouting "ball don't lie," as 'Sheed is wont to do, does not warrant an ejection. In a 2012 game, Wallace was ejected for yelling the phrase after Goran Dragic missed a free throw. The phrase is absolutely harmless and not directed at any particular individual, but the official still decided to toss 'Sheed, who had just received his first technical foul after a flagrant-one call on Luis Scola.
To begin, we'll look at Sheed's college days. Wallace starred for the North Carolina Tar Heels, but even during his youth Wallace could not avoid his share of on-court confrontations. Here, Wallace is engaged in an altercation with Kentucky big man Andre Riddick.
Wallace is bumped by Riddick trying to get quality position in the post and reacts by immediately going for the throat. The two had to be separated by their respective teammates and the officials, and 'Sheed was deservedly tossed from the contest.
Let's look at the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals between the Detroit Pistons and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Here, in a pivotal Game 6, 'Sheed is ejected for arguing with officials following a pair of foul calls. After Anderson Varejao drew a charge on Wallace, he reacted by wrapping up LeBron James in a blatantly illegal manner, and once the whistle was blown he was absolutely apoplectic.
Sure, the call on Varejao was extremely questionable, but Wallace is a veteran and should know to control his emotions during a playoff game with huge Finals' implications.
Now here is one of Wallace's more controversial ejections that I actually believe was completely warranted. The 2000 Western Conference Finals between the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers was an incredible series, and one of the biggest moments was when Wallace was ejected essentially for looking at referee Ron Garretson.
While the ejection may seem excessive, in actuality, it is simply unacceptable to try to stare down a ref to intimidate him, even in a playoff game. It is one thing to talk trash with other players or just to shout the occasional "ball don't lie," but 'Sheed knew of Garretson's demeanor and how he would react to something like Wallace trying to stare him down in the middle of a pivotal contest.
A 2009 game between the Pistons and the New Orleans Hornets was hardly a marquee match-up, but Wallace found a way to make headlines, this time by tossing a towel at the Hornets' fans and subsequently being ejected after a foul on the Hornets' David West.
West was blatantly hit on the arm by Wallace on a shot, who then reacted in his usual incredulous fashion, but as Wallace walked to the bench, he angrily through a towel into the stands, prompting the officials to send him packing.
Officials have been criticized often for not allowing players to display a reasonable amount of emotion, but there is no circumstance in which throwing things into the stands is acceptable. Though it was no more than an act of frustration, 'Sheed deserved the ejection.
Reputation has obviously played a role in many of the calls against Wallace, but the reality is that a number of his ejections have been absolutely deserved. As long as 'Sheed continues to show disregard for the way the NBA game is played, he will have as many deserved ejections as undeserved ejections.