If you happen to catch a familiar figure on the Detroit Pistons bench this season... you must live or be from the Motor City, because people don't voluntarily watch the Pistons play anymore and it's been a while since their last national television primetime game. If you recognize that face on the bench as Rasheed Wallace, you're not hallucinating. Wallace was on the bench for the team's summer league matchup against the Boston Celtics Monday and will be a Pistons assistant coach during the regular season.
Don't twist your face up at the news though. This was Mo Cheeks' idea, but 'Sheed's basketball IQ is respected league-wide.
“I don’t think anybody has ever doubted his IQ and his intelligence,” Dumars told CBS Detroit two weeks ago. “You don’t doubt that. You just can’t get ejected from the bench."
However, his temper and eccentric behavior obscured the genius that lied beneath. Joe Dumars spoke highly of Wallace, so don't think that this is just a publicity stunt. He'll likely be tasked with the development of Pistons big-men Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. However, Wallace will also have to control himself on the bench. Officials around the league have a dossier on Wallace and their opinions of him aren't pleasant. Cheeks can't have his assistant coach racking up techs.
On the plus side, what player is going to get in assistant coach Wallace's face? There's still a risk involved with Wallace, though. Wallace has a lot in common with the Pistons' newest free agent acquisition Josh Smith. Both escaped Atlanta for Detroit and neither played near the basket despite fitting in more naturally as power forwards. However, 'Sheed has never been the best self-motivator -- especially when he was on a squad sinking in the standings.
It's going to be quite a ride in Detroit, but we'll have to wait out the adventure to find out whether Wallace can keep his limbs inside the moving vehicle and stick on an NBA bench as a voiceless assistant.
This weekend, I got a little nostalgic and watched Jamie Foxx and Vivica A. Fox in Booty Call. It was a little weird for one reason: The joint came out in 1996, but 17 years after a dreaded Jamie Foxx was chasing one-night stands with Tommy Davidson, dude is playing the POTUS in summer blockbusters.
I'm just saying, I wouldn't dismiss 'Sheed's career transformation.
Things change, but if Wallace is going to be successful in the next phase of his hoops career, he'll have to turn the volume down on his personality and retire the team-clown persona. If he doesn't, he won't last long.