Imagine if Brett Favre gave Rasheed Wallace lessons on how to be retired.
At first glance, it looks like nothing could be further from the truth — Sheed is about to turn 36, he's survived 15 long years in the NBA, and his career now appears to be done as done can be.
But if you ask the captain he played for in his final season, you might get a different answer.
CSNNE.com's A. Sherrod Blakely caught up with Wallace and Paul Pierce earlier this week at Pierce's basketball camp, and the two men offered differing opinions on the future prospects, or lack thereof, of the veteran Wallace.
Sheed himself insisted that his career was wrapped up "like Christmas," and there was no chance of him coming back.
Pierce disagreed, explaining: "I told him, 'Go ahead, do all you need to do. Take the kids everywhere. We'll see you in February.'"
We've seen this countless times before — veteran athletes, especially stars, love to wait until the last minute to jump back out of retirement and into the fray.
Michael Jordan made his comeback (the first one, in Chicago, donning No. 45) in March. Roger Clemens showed up in George Steinbrenner's box to return to the Yankees in May. Favre has always had the decency so far to make his announcement in training camp, but who knows what the future holds?
Sheed says he's retired now, but he could easily be the next sports star to jump back into the action in midseason. Once the action gets underway and he realizes what he's missing, all bets are off.
But would this be such a good thing for the Celtics?
Remember, the C's have spent their entire offseason rebuilding a big man corps without Wallace (and temporarily without the injured Kendrick Perkins as well). After Perk went down with a torn ACL and Sheed began hinting at his impeding retirement, Danny Ainge took action. He immediately drafted Luke Harangody, a beefy big man out of Notre Dame, to bolster his big man corps. He then added Semih Erden, Jermaine O'Neal and finally Shaquille O'Neal earlier this month.
Doesn't that mean the C's are all set? How much more help can they need?
The two O'Neals will vie for the starting center job in camp. One will win, and the other will log significant minutes off the bench. Among Kevin Garnett, Glen Davis and the newcomer Harangody, the C's are all set at power forward.
If Sheed returns, he's going to come in expecting (or perhaps demanding) more than he's worth. More minutes, more touches, more shots. And the Celtics already don't have enough to go around.
Chemistry is key in Doc Rivers' locker room, and if the C's coach has one too many egos to juggle, he could be in trouble. If Sheed's arrival in Boston is going to put a wrinkle in the Celtics' plans for this season, they had better have time to prepare.
You can also look at it this way: Wallace has always been one to play his way into shape. He's not a gym rat, slaving away in the exercise room year-round — he gets into game shape by taking the floor and jumping into the action.
But if he jumps in at mid-season, as Pierce has hinted he may, then what will happen? How long will it take him to gear up for the playoffs?
It took Sheed a solid five months last season to shake off the cobwebs and begin seriously making a positive contribution to the Celtics. If the C's welcome him back at the All-Star break next year, they won't have the luxury of waiting that long again.
If Sheed wants to play in Boston again, he should be a lot more Favre and a lot less Jordan. Make a decision now, or else don't make one at all. Putting this off would just be asking for trouble.
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