ORLANDO – Some things will never change.
Rasheed Wallace had a colorful response Monday to the initial silence from reporters wanting him to comment on becoming a Pistons assistant coach.
“C’mon, don’t shoot at once, now,” Wallace said playfully to laughter. “Y’all gotta say something, or I’m walking off.”
You can excuse the media for being momentarily tongue-tied at the thought of the guy who is the career leader in technical fouls trading in his uniform for a clipboard.
But for Wallace, 38, it’s all about a chance to watch his kids, who still live in the Detroit area, grow up.
And despite his well-earned mercurial reputation, the job offers a chance for one of the most fundamentally sound big men of the last 20 years to impart some wisdom to the Pistons young big men Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.
“It’s a blessing in disguise; my kids are still back in Detroit,” Wallace said after the Pistons’ loss to the Celtics in summer-league action. “I have the best of both now. I’ll be able to do what I want, and that’s to teach young guys how to play basketball the right way and still be with my kids.”
It’s a far cry from the man who used to scoff at the idea of being a coach. So what’s changed?
“Actually a lot,” Wallace said. “It has more to do with my kids than anything. With them getting older and working them out and other high school kids out, I guess it was that little coaching bug that started, and now here I am up here. But I wasn’t expecting to be here.”
Wallace joined the team Monday and sat on the bench, just to the right of the players. He has already worked with Drummond at the practice facility.
Hiring Wallace was the idea of new coach Maurice Cheeks, who coached Wallace while both were with the Blazers. The Pistons and Wallace have spent the last several weeks making sure Wallace wanted to make this step shortly after retiring from the Knicks.
Wallace isn’t worried about the transition.
“When I was playing, I had that passion and fire, cussing everybody out, but I had the opportunity to change that being out on the floor,” he said. “But now that I’m coach, I can still have my passion, but I just have to tone it down. I can’t make the difference now. I can talk junk, but I can’t back it up.”
Vince Ellis writes for the Detroit Free Press.
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