Rasheed Wallace was the 4th selection in the 1995 NBA Draft, taken one spot ahead of Kevin Garnett and behind Joe Smith, Antonio McDyess and Jerry Stackhouse.
Amazingly, he's the first player in that group to retire. And he went out with style, starting Game 7 of the NBA Finals and playing really well in a losing effort.
Yet nobody cried when he left. Nobody said "Please, Sheed, stay one more season."
Why? The guy made four All Star teams and won an NBA title. He started 956 out of 1088 games in his career. He was a hell of a player. He was also a colossal douchebag.
Sheed started 65 games for the Washington Bullets in his inaugural season because incumbent star Chris Webber was injured. Wallace averaged double figures and was a low post presence on both ends. He was also repeatedly late for practices and amassed 22 technical fouls.
His personal life was a shambles. His girlfriend at the time, Chiquita Bryant, filed assault charges against him and then abducted their son, Ishmael. During a TNT telecast, Sheed pleaded for the public's help in finding his lost child. The boy would stay missing for two years before being reunited with his father in 1998.
In the meantime, the Bullets traded him to Portland for Rod Strickland.
He walked into a Portland locker room filled with the likes of JR (then Isaiah) Rider, Kenny Anderson, Jermaine O'Neal and Gary Trent. In 1997, the team added Damon Stoudamire. In 1998, Bonzi Wells came into the fold.
It was a perfect storm of self-entitled childish buffoonery.
Sheed racked up 38 techs in '98, setting a league record. The next year, he made it to 40.
Another disturbing trend was developing: Sheed was drifting further and further from the basket. Despite being one of the league's best post players, Sheed began to see himself as a three point shooter. As a player, this would be ultimately be his downfall. For his career, he shot 34% from distance.
In '01, Ruben Patterson and Zach Randolph came onboard the Good Ship Jailblazer. The team was winning but even their own fanbase hated them.
Darius Miles arrived in '03, the same year Wallace threatened Tim Donaghy after a home game, resulting in a 7 game suspension.
Then Sheed unleased a ridiculous diatribe on the league's commissioner, saying that "Stern only drafts niggers who are dumb and dumber." Whoa.
He was traded to Atlanta for one game, and then subsequently redirected to the Detroit Pistons, where he reunited with Larry Brown who he knew from his college days at North Carolina.
He helped the Pistons beat the Lakers for the title in 2004. Sheed celebrated by having championship belts made for every one of his teammates. The Pistons remained a perennial Eastern Conference power for five years but Wallace's game was in slow decline. As his three point attempts increased, his shooting and rebounding numbers suffered.
The Celtics apparently didn't notice this dropoff and signed him before the 2010 season. By all accounts, the regular season was a complete disaster for Sheed. He showed up out of shape and got blasted in the press. Bill Simmons constantly referred to his bad attitude and 'man boobs.'
Then the playoffs started and the creaky old Cs put an astonishing run together, knocking off Cleveland and Orlando before succumbing to the Lakers in Game 7. With Kendrick Perkins injured, Sheed started in the last game of his career and played brilliantly, in the first half at least. He posted up. He competed. He gave his team a chance to win, helping Boston build a 13-point lead on the road.
But it wasn't meant to be. After the game, he made an ass of himself one last time, waiting outside the referee's dressing room menacingly.
Sheed went out the way he came in- pissed off and petulant.
For his career, he made over 150 million but it's still surprising that he'd leave 12 mil on the table. But then again, nobody ever really understood Sheed. Maybe he didn't even understand himself.
As he once said "Everybody is not going to like you. Fifty percent like you, 50 percent hate you. You just gotta keep walking that straight path."
Rasheed's path was anything but straight. Or predictable. Personally, I was never a fan but like most basketball enthusiasts, I can't say enough about his talent. I only wish he'd posted up more and shut the fuck up every now and then.
Pictured: Young Sheed with Wilt Chamberlain