Wallace deserves this Stern sentence
- Dwight Jaynes
- Portland Tribune - Sports
Ah, an organization has rallied around its fallen hero, Rasheed Wallace. But before the 'Free 'Sheed' movement spreads any further, it's time to deal with some of the foolishness and misinformation being perpetuated by the Trail Blazers.
First, if there's a conspiracy against the Blazers by the NBA, the organization has earned it. Does Commissioner David Stern have something against this team? Well, if so it's certainly not because Paul Allen folded the Portland Fire (yeah, like Stern cares).
Or that Allen doesn't come to league meetings (he actually went to one last year and, anyway, Jerry Reinsdorf has won a bunch of titles in Chicago and never goes to the meetings).
Or that, as was written elsewhere, 'Bob Whitsitt beat him in court over a free-agent loophole in the collective bargaining agreement.' (Actually, that was Geoff Petrie, so that's why the refs are out to get Sacramento, I guess.)
No, if Stern is down on the Blazers, it's for a very obvious reason. You see, the NBA is a brand. It's a product. And everyone who owns a team owns a piece of the product. I think there are a great many people inside the NBA Ñ not just Stern, but owners and operators of the other teams Ñ who have had it with this franchise because it continues to sully the reputation and good name of the whole league.
You reap what you sow. You get what you deserve. When are people going to wake up and realize that with this franchise under Whitsitt, the ugly incidents just never stop?
And people who would defend Rasheed Wallace, leave me bewildered. Come on, do you have any doubt how psycho this guy can be? How crazy he can get when something inside his head snaps?
Blazer officials and players have convinced themselves that nothing much happened after that game in the Rose Garden last week. It's a continuation of the same enabling-and-alibi process with Wallace that has gotten them into this fix. They've actually convinced some people, even their own players, that this was an isolated incident witnessed only by Wallace and referee Tim Donaghy. One man's word taken against another's. In fact, it took the NBA nearly two days to interview all the people who saw it.
I most certainly think the league made a mistake in not revealing the exact circumstances of the incident, but it did say Wallace 'accosted' and 'threatened' the official Ñ a full hour after a game.
You'll hear people call a seven-game suspension for such a thing 'unprecedented.' But the fact is, Wallace's actions were unprecedented. You can't compare this to player versus player violence. Or to actions taken against an official on the court. This is Little League stuff Ñ follow the official out to his car in the parking lot. No professional league can allow something like this to take place.
Details of the confrontation are slowly drifting out. Some were known last Thursday Ñ but the Blazers tried to hush them up or downplay them. The team kept trying to make this into nothing more than an exchange of curses between player and official. But according to eyewitness reports, Wallace removed his coat and moved toward Donaghy in a threatening manner and got about an inch from his face before people pulled him away.
In my world, when you're having words with an angry guy and he removes his coat, that means he's ready to rumble. It's a combination of threat and intimidation. There is enough of that on the court, but after a game, in the parking lot, it's scary.
This flare-up came after a game the Blazers won and Wallace, unburdened by double teams from a horrible Memphis defense, scored 38 points. That he could be so out of control in a situation like that speaks volumes about his poise, self-control and intellect. Or lack of same.
That his coach, general manager and teammates Ñ and a portion of the media in this town Ñ would defend him or even try to elicit sympathy for him or his team speaks to a grave lack of perspective.
Bob Whitsitt has built a franchise where boorish behavior has become commonplace. And it isn't just our city or the Blazer organization that is embarrassed by that, it is all of pro basketball.
If Paul Allen isn't going to do anything about it, the responsibility most certainly falls to the NBA.