It’s almost getting redundant to speak about draft picks that were traded away by the Washington Wizards and ultimately became more successful than arguably any other player that has actually played for the franchise; but in tonight’s matchup versus the New York Knicks, it would be a crime to not take a look at Rasheed Wallace.
Drafted out of UNC in 1995 by the Washington Bullets, Wallace played 65 games and had a monumental (pun intended) season that saw Chris Webber go down for most of the season. He was selected to the rookie team during the ’95-’96 All Star Weekend. He averaged ten points a game and just under five rebounds. Even more impressive was the fact that a 6'11 power forward sank the three-ball pretty well, averaging at least one per game and shooting the deep ball at 33%.
Not too shabby.
But after the season, the Bullets traded him off to Portland in exchange for Rod Strickland. While Strickland helped boost the Bullets to the playoffs that season, Wallace only continued to improve by having the third-highest field goal percentage in the 96-97 season, only to be hindered by an injury the same year. But his career with the Blazers (and consequently the Pistons, Hawks, Celtics and Knicks) has been nothing short of impeccable.
Through 2010, before his retirement, Wallace had played in 1088 games, four all-star games, won a championship, and career averages of 14.6 points per game, 6.7 rebounds per game, nearly two assists and one block per game.
It’s also pretty hard to ignore the fact that the guy is 38 years old and still playing in the NBA as a big-man.
‘Sheed has been one of the most vocal players in this generation of the NBA, holding the record for the all-time leader of technical fouls. He also set the record for the most number of technical fouls assessed against him in the 2000-2001 season (41).
But while he’s loud with his mouth, he’s not dumb with it. During the “Malace at the Palace” incident, Rasheed was often seen trying to separate guys and keep things from getting out of hand.
I don’t want to hypothesize what could have been with Rasheed on the Washington franchise for longer than one year. Injuries could have bit him harder here (as he’s currently sitting out until at least the All-Star Break), the team might not have had the right pieces around him, or it could be one of many other reasons. It just wasn’t meant to be.
But to one of the most talented and long-lasting in this generation of the NBA, you’ve got to give him a “cheers” for all he’s accomplished, no matter what affiliation you have.