Rasheed Wallace has become an instant fan favorite at Madison Square Garden. Sheed, as he is affectionately called by fans and players alike, came out of his 2-year retirement in order to play for The Knicks this season. He had previously played for Coach Woodson in Detroit when he own his first and only championship.
There are obvious reasons why the Knicks wanted Sheed. He was one of the better help defenders and post players in his prime, and is a 34% 3-point shooter. He brought height and shooting to a team that was already very deep, but he was not able to play for the team until he worked on his conditioning. So far this season, he is averaging 5.5 ppg and 3.0 rpg in 9.5 minutes of play.
While those stats are not stunning, they are impressive due to his age and recent return from retirement. However, those numbers do not justify the reaction he is getting from the fans. Sheed has become one of the most popular players on this Knick team, and even got shouts of “SHEED,” at the Orlando Magic game earlier tonight. So the question is what makes Rasheed Wallace so lovable?
Sheed’s ridiculousness on and off the court is one of the reasons fans love him. He is the all-time leader in technical fouls with 304, and watching him argue with a Ref is the highlight of most games he plays in. He plays hard, and it shows when he challenges the referees. “Ball don’t lie,” is a phrase that Sheed helped to gain popularity, and one he often uses after a player misses a free throw from a foul that he deemed clean. No one can help but smile when Sheed screams those words after a missed free throw.
Another source of the fascination with Sheed comes from his new, but at the same time old, bald spot. The off-centered hairless circle towards the back of his head is bigger than last time he was on the court, and it has become a fun topic of interest from fans.
He is not concerned with the media, or their opinion of him. From the start of preseason to post-game interviews, Sheed doesn’t beat around the bush. When asked what he thought of the Knicks last season, his response was, “‘I was more interested in college. To me it seemed in college ball, guys are more hungry.” Earlier this month he spread these words of wisdom, “Offense sells tickets, defense wins championships.” He also said that part of his motivation to come back to the game was to show the young guys how the low-post is really played. Who wouldn’t love such candor?
It doesn’t matter why you love Rasheed Wallace, but what matters is that you do. Sheed may very well play a big bench role on a team contending for a championship, but more importantly he will provide the chemistry and entertainment that all teams need. If one things for sure, Rasheed Wallace will bring happiness to fans all over the league for at least one more year, and maybe that’s better than a championship? That is, its better than a Heat Championship.