As Rasheed Wallace walked away from the media scrum in Orlando during Summer League in July, he had to do a double take when a media member referenced him as "Coach Wallace."
Seeing a 6-foot-10 man do a double take, especially one with Wallace's history was a sight to see.
He certainly did not look like a coach. He waltzed in to Amway Center each day with a team-issued polo shirt, untucked, and a hat — for Notre Dame on the first day, then for the Red Wings later on in the week. The bald patch on the back of his head certainly stands out.
"I will tell you the big thing is, when I was playing and I had that passion and fire, cussing everybody out, I had the opportunity to change that being out on the floor," Wallace said after it was announced he would be a Pistons assistant at Summer League in Orlando in July. "But now with me being a coach, I can still have my passion but I just have to tone it down because I can't make the difference now. I can talk junk, but I can't back it up.
"To be honest, it's not too hard though. It's not too hard because I'm not out there expending the energy, running back and forth and be like 'I'm out here busting my ass and you're not giving me the call.' It's different now. Being on the sideline now, you try to be more of a motivational inspiration for the kids."
It was in July that the Pistons announced Rasheed Wallace would join Maurice Cheeks' coaching staff in Detroit. Since then, reports of him working with Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and new acquisition Josh Smith have surfaced. And, despite his histrionics in the past, he was always viewed as a good leader and mentor for young players. He should benefit Cheeks and his staff.
Wallace spent the latter part of his career with the Celtics and Knicks being a mentor and contributor to veteran teams. That coaching role is not likely to change he just will be wearing a suit (that will be a sight) rather than donning a uniform each night.
It is an adjustment, but Wallace has already proven himself to be the hands-on kind of coach who can get down in the post and show Monroe, Drummond, Smith and whoever else exactly what to do. It is an invaluable thing to have for a burgeoning team like the Pistons. The lack of a generation gap, Wallace feels, will help him reach his charges.
"It would be a shame if I passed away and wasn't able to pass that on to my sons or to any other young ball player that wants to accept that knowledge," Wallace said.
"I think it helps with me being a part of their generation, with them watching me as they were coming up as young ballplayers, so that generation gap isn't as large as it would be if I retired in the early 90s and tried to come back into coaching now. I've seen a lot of older coaches get disrespected."
That should not happen this time around. But some "older" considerations were part of what attracted Wallace to coaching and, specifically, coaching with the Pistons.
He said he was attracted to the perk of being able to see his family, who still lives in Detroit. Mike Woodson of the Knicks offered to bring Wallace onto his staff, but it appeared he asked at a point when Wallace was unsure of what he wanted. He definitely wanted to go into coaching after working out with his kids and high school players. The bug got in his ear and the right opportunity on Maurice Cheeks' staff came up.
There was no beating around the bush. Cheeks wanted Wallace to help tutor the young big men on the roster.
This new role hardly means Wallace will change that much. He will still be boisterous, he will still have his catch phrases — Ball Don't Lie is a national thing, he said, and he no longer has to say it — and he will still be the same old Rasheed.
Just an assistant coach Rasheed. What that is, we do not really know quite yet. It is going to be quite the adventure.