By Charles Trimble III
Rasheed Wallace officially retired yesterday after he was unable to overcome the lingering effects of his foot injury. During his brief but impactful stay as a Knickerbocker, Rasheed was able to instill a confidence and belief in this team that transformed them from a team that thought they could succeed into a team that expected to!
Many contributed the 18-5 start, but Rasheed‘s presence and surprising effectiveness was the brightest, especially after losing Stoudemire to early season knee surgery. Almost immediately after making the rotation the team defense improved immensely. Wallace, like a professor of defense, literally instructed many of the Knicks on the art of communication. His constant talking on defense became contagious and soon Mike Woodson was looking like a genius for talking Rasheed out of retirement.
However unlike fine wine, basketball players don’t improve with age and after fracturing his foot during the 1st half of the season, Wallace was no exception. More than the 14 minutes per game he played when healthy, it will be Rasheed’s locker room presence that will be missed the most.
So after 18 NBA seasons, Rasheed Wallace finally walks away for the final time after leaving an remarkable legacy of intensity, technical fouls, championship play, and a “3 to the dome” salute that Knick players continue to embrace to this day.
During his tenure as Knicks’ President, Isiah Thomas targeted many players, it’s a shame he wasn’t successful in obtaining one of his biggest, Rasheed Wallace. Who knows what happens if the Knicks brought a 29 year old Rasheed to town instead of the 38 year old version? At least we got a taste.
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