Remember Rasheed Wallace’s One-Game-Long Atlanta Hawks Career?
The NBA trade deadline has come and gone, and OH MY GOD was it uneventful. Seriously, when Antawn Jamison getting traded is considered newsworthy, you know it’s a slow news day. I remember when the trade deadline used to live up to the hype. Why, I can even remember a particular deadline so eventful that Rasheed Wallace was traded twice in the span of 10 days. Yes, I remember that ten-day interval like it was yesterday … *cue harps*
The year was 2004. After eight seasons with the franchise, the Portland Trail Blazers shipped Rasheed Wallace to the Atlanta Hawks for Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Theo Ratliff, and Dan Dickau. Wallace had spent most of those eight years as the Blazers’ best player, and he nearly took them to the NBA Finals in 2000. But he was a malcontent and a loudmouth, and the Blazers were several games out of the playoff race in ’04. Their roster was so loaded with trouble-makers that people were calling them the “Jail Blazers,” and Wallace, the perennial leader in technical fouls, had become the face of everything that was wrong with the franchise.
When the deal went through, Blazers president Steve Patterson tellingly noted that the team had acquired “three players of good character.” Blazers GM John Nash said something something similar: “I think you’ll see a quick integration of these guys in the locker room because they’re good guys.”
Ironically, the trade didn’t help either team much in the long-term. The Blazers stayed about the same with Abdur-Rahim and finished tenth in Western Conference. They tanked the following year, finishing 27-55. The Hawks, meanwhile, held onto Rasheed Wallace for exactly one game before they traded him to the Detroit Pistons in a salary dump. (And thus, these photos of Wallace in a Hawks jersey are seriously some of the only ones that exist.)
In his one and only game with the Hawks, Wallace played 42 minutes, scoring 20 points on 8-24 shooting (yuck) to go with 6 rebounds and 5 blocks in an Atlanta loss to the New Jersey Nets.
On February 19, the Hawks moved Wallace to Detroit in a three-team deal that landed them Chris Mills, Bob Sura, and a future first-round pick that later turned into Josh Smith. The move worked out splendidly for Wallace and the Pistons, who won a title over the Lakers that summer. In fact, that was basically the last move that ever worked out for Pistons GM Joe Dumars, whose decisions have been so awful in the last 10 years that he surely would’ve been fired if not for residual championship-related good will. Oddly enough, one of the questionable moves Dumars made recently was to give an exorbitant contract to Josh Smith, who he could have drafted had he not made that Wallace deal.
What’s funny is that of all the athletes who could’ve gotten moved twice in a 10-day span, no player may have ever been better equipped to handle such a transition than Rasheed Wallace, who was already infamous for once stating that he didn’t really care who he played for.
“As long as somebody ‘CTC,’ at the end of the day I’m with them,” Wallace had told reporters. “For all you that don’t know what CTC means, that’s ‘Cut The Check.’ [...] 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.”
Maybe if more modern players felt like ‘Sheed did, we’d have seen more trades yesterday.