Rasheed Wallace turns 40 today (Sept. 17), which gives us the opportunity to remember one of the league's best characters. Many athletes provide memorable moments forever preserved on YouTube and in the dark corners of the Internet, but few come as multi-layered as Sheed. He was outspoken and prone to anger, yet was one of the most selfless players on the court and one of the most secure in himself off it. I'd call him a walking contradiction, but that term only makes sense based on a shallow understanding of the athletes we yearn to show us more.
Wallace was also a champion, but trite as it is to separate the two, his legacy will live on because of his personality more than his on-court success. Thus, we're going to remember some of our favorite Sheed quotes and videos:
Ball don't lie
Ah yes, 'Sheed's famous phrase. It originated sometime during his Portland Trail Blazers career (we think?) and became his go-to line whenever he believed he was called for an unjust foul and the free throws missed. (So, often). The phrase became so popular that his head coach once used it, as did one of the Internet's most popular NBA blogs.
Both teams played hard
This famous line came after the Blazers won Game 4 in their 2003 first-round series against the Mavericks to fend off elimination. At the time, Portland had no shot in the series. Dallas won Game 3 in Portland convincingly and were headed for a gentleman's sweep back home. Instead, Portland took Games 5 and 6 and entered the fourth quarter of Game 7 with a two-point lead before falling apart. It nearly was the greatest playoff series comeback of all time.
Perhaps the angry diatribe -- after a win, no less -- had its intended effect.
Cut the check
Here's what a defiant Wallace told The Oregonian in 2003.
"If it was true that I just cared about the money, then my whole attitude would be different. I want to win every game, and I want to go out a winner. If I retire from this league and I haven't won at least one championship, I'll feel like all my years in the league would be a failure," Wallace said. "As far as the CTC goes, it's a business and you can't put your personal feelings before that.
"I would like to be out here, my wife likes it out here, and she's established out here. My kids have friends out here and go to school out here. I would say we're intertwined in the community. But if I have to go somewhere else and play, I'm not going to sit up here and boo-hoo about going. No, because at the end of the day, I will still be able to do the things necessary to take care of my family.
"That's what the CTC means, whoever cuts that check, that's who I have to play for."
Is ... is that so ridiculous? All he's really saying is that he has no control over his situation ... which is true. Fans are obviously angry when players point out that they are mere commodities to be bargained for by more powerful people that front vanity projects, but it's not too far from the truth.
That time Sheed got T'd up in a Pro-Am game
(Skip to the 3:13 mark to see this).
Wallace's temper was legendary. He set records for technical fouls and would have #LeaguePassAlerts set for his impending blowups if he still played today.
In Wallace's eyes, officials were out to get him since he entered the league and thus his reputation was undeserved. Perhaps that's true on some level, considering ...
That time Sheed was thrown out for staring
There's some context here: Wallace got one technical for yelling at Ron Garrettson from the bench earlier, so this is his second. Still, what other player could be ejected for not talking back?
Then again, Sheed is intimidating.
Favorite Sheed story: His high school coach told me Sheed was a pitcher who threw in the 80s and scared the hell out of the other kids.— Paul Flannery (@Pflanns) September 17, 2014
This wasn't just any trick shot: there was a science to it. Watch the full video for an explanation.
When Sheed showed up Dean Smith
One of my favorite things about Wallace is that he didn't care to change his behavior for authority figures. He was going to be himself, whether they liked it or not. This anecdote from Jonathan Abrams' 2013 Grantland profile illustrates this best.
In practice one day, Wallace took an ill-conceived 15-foot baseline shot too early in a possession for Smith. The famed head coach blew his whistle and halted the practice immediately. "Do you think that’s a good shot?" Hanners remembers Smith asking Wallace. Wallace replied that he did. "Well, let’s see you make 10 of them in a row," Smith challenged him. Wallace drained eight straight from the same spot before Smith told him to stop.
It's as if Wallace was Manny Ramirez and Rajon Rondo all rolled into one.
It's an important play ... LET'S SING
Here's the truth: you never pass up the opportunity to shout "TAKE. ME. HOME," even if it's one of the most important possessions of your season.
That time Sheed danced to Pony
This didn't really happen, but you know, company policy.
Rasheed Wallace dancing at other times
The NBA should require every team to have a player that dances like this before games. Kobe Bryant must be that player for the Lakers. No arguments.
This is the quintessential Wallace moment. He's recording a promo wishing fans a happy holiday season with three lowly rookies (Jason Maxiell, Amir Johnson, Will Blalock) and nobody would blame him if he sleepwalked through it. totem poll.
But that's not how Sheed operates. Instead, he takes command of the song, which in turn encourages the other three rookies to get progressively rowdier. Then, this happens.
That guy is not afraid of looking silly. In turn, neither will the rookies, who see a veteran having fun with them and will feel more comfortable in the locker room, on the court and when hanging out with other teammates. It's a small thing, but it makes a difference.
And that's Sheed's enduring legacy. Whenever he could have been boring, he wasn't. There are players that have danced. There are players that have said controversial things. There are players that have invented catch phrases. There are players that lost their temper. There are players that have brashly dismissed authority figures and then backed up most of the talk. There has never been a player that's done all those things at once.
Happy birthday, Sheed. Play if you want to play. Otherwise, do what you please.