Try telling that to Rasheed Wallace.
Another week, another news bulletin on the temper of the 35-year-old Celtics veteran. Nothing to see here — just the same old Sheed — move along.
Early on in the Celtics' embarrassing home loss to the flailing Philadelphia 76ers on Dec. 18, Wallace butted heads with the officials in a big way — first with a technical foul in the second quarter, and another soon thereafter. Wallace was ejected before halftime — they were his ninth and 10th T's of the season, to give him 30 for his career.
One of Sheed's technicals was later revoked upon further review, so his season total has slid back down to nine. But that's still an alarming number for this early in the season — easily the most in the NBA, and more than halfway to the limit of 16 before the league office starts doling out one-game suspensions.
You'd think that at this point Sheed would be concerned. By now, he's not just tarnishing his own reputation (and his wallet, as the fines start to pile up), he's putting the team at risk, too. Every time he's ejected, that's one game the Celtics have to play with a shallower, weaker bench. If he's suspended later in the season, it could be a big blow.
Players are brought into Boston to buy into the team concept. It's not about expressing yourself or furthering your own persona or your own ego — it's about coming together for the greater good and winning. That's what Celtic pride is all about.
And yet Rasheed doesn't sound like he's bought in. When asked Sunday about the technicals and his ejection against the Sixers, the forward was defiant, not apologetic.
"I’ll still play my game," he insisted over the weekend. "I’ll still be me. I ain’t changing my game for nobody. I ain’t changing nothing for nobody."
Is that the kind of attitude that works in Boston?
Countless players have come to Beantown and changed a lot of things for a lot of people. It's all about forgetting about your numbers, forgetting about your fame, forgetting about your fortune. All for one and one for all. Ubuntu.
And yet the Celtics seem almost resigned to the fact that Wallace will be an exception to that rule. He's getting on in years, he's set in his ways, and he's going to finish his career as a head case with a knack for the technical foul.
"He’s been doing it a long time," coach Doc Rivers admitted this week to Yahoo's Peter May. "He’s an expert at it. But we knew that when we got him, and I still love him. I think he’s great, he’s been great for our team, but he’s going to have some of these days."
But so far, those days have been too frequent, too frustrating, too damaging to the team's unity.
You put up with a lot when you take a flyer on Rasheed Wallace. You're getting a lot of missed jumpers, a few questionable decisions, and a standoffish mood temperament that doesn't translate well into team chemistry.
But at the very least, can't you hope for the man to stay out of trouble?
Eventually, Rasheed Wallace should realize that this isn't about him. When he's asked to change his ways, it's not about his own personality or his own reputation — it's about the good of the team. The Celtics are playing for a championship, and they could do without any distractions along the way.
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