After Rasheed Wallace officially joined the Knicks today, he talked about his relationship with Mike Woodson and how it helped him want to return to the NBA.
They grew close when they were in Detroit when the Pistons won the 2004 NBA championship. Wallace was a key player – the missing piece to that Detroit puzzle – and Woodson an assistant coach. Woodson called Wallace six months ago to guage his interest in returning to the NBA. In late August Wallace decided to take Woodson up on his offer to re-join him.
“Him and I, we went and traveled that long road when we were in Detroit,” Wallace said. “With that, his overall demeanor, his respect for his players, his respect for the game - it makes it easy. He makes it easy for me to come back. I didn't have to fight with myself like, ‘OK, should I do this, or should I do that?’ I didn't have to fight with myself."
Asked what Woodson did for him in Detroit, Wallace said:
“A lot of things. Just working out with Coach Woody. Taking the time to get the extra shots up. Just trying to keep everybody level headed because there were times that we were all frustrated, even when I got there.
“But you know how coach Woody talks well it's the laid back demeanor, his whole calmness. He was the one that quieted the storm. With myself being a hot head and with Ben Wallace being how he was, talking to coach Woody just kept us calm.”
Wallace also dismissed stories that he was close to returning to the NBA last season with the Lakers.
“All those rumors that you all heard was just that, rumors,” he said. “Certain media guys want to be the one to break a story. There wasn’t no story to break. I’ve heard that I signed with the Lakers. I heard that I signed with the Heat. I was like, I wish somebody had let me know this. It’s all rumor mill and that’s what keeps it going.”
Woodson made it sound as if there are no guarantees that Wallace will make the roster, but it would be hard to imagine he wouldn’t if he can play himself into game shape. Woodson wouldn’t see if Wallace would come out of retirement if he didn’t believe he could help the Knicks. There is an obvious trust there from what they went through together.
Wallace likely would play limited minutes and would help the Knicks defensively. He also can knock down shots. But he has to get in basketball shape and get his rhythm and timing back after two years away from the game.
“I’m not expecting to come in here to average 25 points,” Wallace said. “I’m not expecting to come in here to average 35, 40 minutes. Wherever coach needs me, if it’s two minutes, then I’m out here for two minutes going hard. If it’s 10 or 15 minutes then I’m out there going hard for a certain amount of minutes he has me out there. I’m not one to complain.
“I know I’m not the No. 1 guy here. I’m willing to accept my role. With me being a veteran player I know what my role would be.”