Having watched the Eastern Conference Finals this year, even in a somewhat cursory manner, I couldn’t help but come away with a thought: Boy, the Pistons sure could have used Rasheed Wallace this year.
“But wait,” you say, “’Sheed is still on their team!”
Watching Rasheed’s career wind down, seeing him limp into the sunset more than ride gloriously, knowing what kind of player he was in his Portland days and how close we were to maybe doing something special, you can’t help but wonder what could have been. You also wonder what Rasheed’s legacy will ultimately be as a Blazer and in the league overall.
Though he never averaged 20 points at any time in his career, ‘Sheed played some amazing ball for a handful of years with the Blazers. That late-90’s team had so many big names on it that it’s easy to overlook the fact that he was the straw that stirred the drink. Rasheed’s tantrums and drama obscured some of the most bankable playoff performances this franchise has known. Whatever else you think of him, the guy could play. He was had one of the best all-around games of anybody who has put on our uniform.
Rasheed’s desire to get out of town and his willingness to provide bulletin board material for
This is not to count Rasheed out entirely. He’s 33 years old and next year is a contract year for him. I would not be surprised if he had one more spark left in him. I’m not hopeful about the next contract he signs, however. It will almost certainly be both his last and his least productive.
Looking at all of this you wonder…did it have to happen this way? Could Rasheed have remained a Blazer, for one thing? What would it have looked like? And what will his final legacy be in this league? He did a fair amount, but it’s hard to believe that he truly reached his outer limit of success. Perhaps most importantly of all for some team, does he have anything significant left to give or was this for all practical purposes his last hurrah?
P.S. You can also read Zuul's diary to the right for more thoughts on this subject.