‘Sheed Cooler than a Polar Bear’s Toenails

Rasheed is stepping up it up

There was no Guaran-Sheed after the Detroit Pistons’ loss in Game 3 to the Cleveland Cavaliers. There was no braggadocio or complaining about the officials or “both teams played hard” brush-off to the media.

Rasheed Wallace will never be mistaken for a noble statesman invited to a lavish NBA party to shake hands with current or potential sponsors. David Stern would rather ‘Sheed fades into obscurity and out of the league than be the center of attention in the 2007 NBA Finals. Surely Stern prefers that Wallace not be the most quotable player in his league (which he is, with no apologies at all to the tired routine of Shaquille O’Neal).

We won’t go into a lengthy defense of Rasheed Wallace and how misinterpreted his passion for the game is. But Rob Parker’s column today in The Detroit News revealed that the Pistons’ MVP thus far in the postseason has raised some eyebrows in the wake of his team’s first loss of the Eastern Conference Finals. For once, it’s not for doing any of the things mentioned above, things he’s done in the past. For once, he’s made headlines for doing exactly the opposite:

On Monday, the day after the Pistons lost for the first time in this best-of-seven series, Wallace was a calming influence, the voice of reason. Yes, Rasheed Wallace.

Wallace, who is having his best postseason as a Piston, didn’t rant or rave before practice at Cleveland State University. He didn’t point fingers at anyone for the Pistons’ tough 88-82 loss in Game 3 on Sunday at the Quicken Loans Arena. In fact, he kept everything in perspective and showed the confidence this Pistons team is known for — even when things aren’t going as well as they would like.

“We’ll be fine,” Wallace said. “We’ll bounce back from this. We’re not the type of ball club that’ll let it linger.

“There’s no pressure. We’re out here playing. We’ve been here. They’re trying to go down the road that we’ve already been. We’re just trying to get back to that same road. We got lost, but now we’re trying to get back.”

In postseasons gone by, Wallace could have easily gone with a Guaran-Sheed as a response to that. You know, when he guarantees that the Pistons are going to win a game. He did it last year in the second round after the Cavaliers won Game 3 here and reduced their deficit to 2-1. “You can’t guarantee everything all the time,” he said. “That’s only good for once a year. If it comes up, it comes up. If not, let it be, let it ride.”

“There are no worries on this end. We’re still up, 2-1. Not taking anything away from them. They played a good game (Sunday night). New day today, new game (Tuesday).”

Now, as it always with ‘Sheed, his tune could drastically change with another Pistons loss tonight in Cleveland. His postgame press conference could be filled with R-rated language capped off by his first Guaran-Sheed of the 2007 playoffs. You never know what he’s going to do or what he’s going to say. But for now, with Chauncey Billups struggling like he is, Rasheed Wallace has been the leader, the most steadying presence, for his team on the court. And right now, he’s walking and talking like its leader *off* the court as well.

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