Celtics

How 'impossible' Rasheed Wallace tried to invade referees' locker room after 2010 NBA Finals

How 'impossible' Rasheed Wallace tried to invade referees' locker room after 2010 NBA Finals

Moments after the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals, Rasheed Wallace positioned himself outside the referees’ locker room at the Staples Center in a surreal scene that culminated with security insisting he could not enter.

A decade later, retired longtime NBA referee Danny Crawford, part of that Game 7 crew, deemed it the “strangest situation,” and said there was no way he could allow Wallace entry even if his intentions had been pure.

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“If you think about Rasheed Wallace’s relationship with referees over the years — it was impossible,” said Crawford, who retired in 2017 after 31 seasons as an NBA referee that included 23 straight Finals appearances. "He was the most difficult man in the world to referee, to deal with. It was impossible.

"So Game 7, NBA Finals, you hear security knocking on the door saying, ‘Hey, Rasheed Wallace would like to come into the locker room and talk to you guys.’ I said, ‘Are you serious?’ I can only imagine what this fight would be like in this locker room. He would kick our butts. So I actually told the security guy, I said, ‘You know what? No way. Rasheed can’t come in the locker room.’ Then they said, ‘But he wants to come in and talk to you guys,’ and supposedly, he wanted to come in and apologize. That’s what I heard. But, guess what guys, too late.”

Wallace was playing what many thought was his last NBA game (he made a brief, ill-fated comeback attempt with the Knicks at age 38 in 2012). He logged a playoff-high 36 minutes of floor time in Game 7 before a battered and bruised Celtics team ran out of gas and the Lakers rallied ahead in the final minutes.

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Crawford wasn’t taking any chances that Wallace wanted to vent about any of the calls that night.

"Based on his credibility, there was no way that we could do that. Impossible. Because I could see [reporters] writing, ‘Big fight in the referees’ locker room!’ Rasheed Wallace and Danny Crawford. And Danny Crawford kicked his butt,” Crawford said with a laugh during an appearance on NBC Sports Boston’s Celtics Talk Podcast. "That was an unbelievable situation and there was no way we could let him in the locker room.”

Wallace, the Michael Jordan of technical fouls and ejections, was a known referee agitator. Crawford said that, if Wallace was coming to apologize, he never attempted to reach out in the aftermath.

"The most difficult individual in my career. He was impossible,” said Crawford. "I remember I worked the All-Star game in Washington [in 2001]. Rasheed Wallace was an All-Star then and I remember we were staying in the same hotel and we’re going down an escalator and I remember these little kids asking Rasheed Wallace for an autograph and he was like waving these kids off like, ‘No, no, no, no. Get away from me.’ And I was like, ‘He is a difficult individual.’

I have a few pictures in my portfolio of Rasheed and I, and they are not good. He’s coming after me and I’m going at him. That’s my memory of Rasheed Wallace.

Crawford, voted one of the most respected officials in the NBA near the end of his career, said he never tried to let past flareups influence how he refereed a player. But Wallace was an exception.

"Game in, game out, it’s all different … our relationship is new. Except for Rasheed Wallace,” said Crawford. "Because you knew what you were going to get. I hate to say that and, you know what, I hope if Rasheed is listening, he will agree. It was just I knew what he was all about. And he was just a difficult guy and he defied authority and no matter what I said to him — I used to try to massage his ego with child psychology and it never worked, in my whole career. So, Rasheed Wallace and I, no conversations.”

Especially not after Game 7 of the NBA Finals in 2010.

Celtics will return to limited practice routine starting June 1

Celtics will return to limited practice routine starting June 1

The Boston Celtics will move one step closer towards preparing for the remainder of this season, with voluntary individual player workouts beginning at the team’s practice facility on June 1. 

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Friday that professional teams in the state could resume practicing soon. 

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“I know we still aren’t to the point where we’ll have our pro sports teams back playing anything yet,” Baker said in a press conference at the State House. “The leagues are obviously working hard to host games again. And I think we all hope that at some point, opening practice facilities will help make that happen a little sooner.”

Danny Ainge, the Celtics’ President of Basketball Operations, echoed similar sentiments on Friday. 

“We’re happy that our players will now have the option to work out individually in a safe environment at the Auerbach Center,” Ainge said. “And we hope it signals a step back towards playing basketball again.”

The Celtics added that the workouts will adhere to strict protocols that include but are not limited to the following:

  • Workouts are voluntary & will be conducted in strict accordance with city, state, CDC, and NBA requirements and guidelines.
  • Symptom and temperature checks will be done by team medical staff before anyone enters the facility.
  • Workouts will be limited to individual (1-on-0) shooting, strength and conditioning work, and medical evaluation and therapy as needed.
  • Only essential areas will be accessed. There will be no access to locker rooms, showers, hydrotherapy, medical exam rooms, cafeteria, and offices.
  • Only four players will be able to work out at a time, each working with only one staff member at a time. There will be no more than one player per half court at a time.
  • All staff members will wear masks in the building, and any staff member working with a player must wear gloves. Players will wear masks except while engaging in physical activity. Players and staff will adhere to CDC and NBA compliant social distancing standards at all times.
  • Social distancing will be required in the building except in limited specific instances  (e.g. physical therapy), when PPE will be used.
  • A thorough cleaning and disinfection of all spaces and equipment, including basketballs, will take place before and after each player uses the building.
  • Only staff members essential to these workouts will be present at the Auerbach Center. There will be no access for general staff, public, or media. 

While no definitive date has been set for the NBA to resume play, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has reportedly told owners that the league is targeting July 31 as a return-to-play date. 

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NBA rumors: July 31 is a target date for 2019-20 season return

NBA rumors: July 31 is a target date for 2019-20 season return

Could we see the return of NBA basketball at the end of July?

The Athletic's Shams Charania has reported the league told its Board of Governors on Friday that July 31 is a potential target date for the resumption of the 2019-20 season.

Charania also reported the league discussed four return to play scenarios ranging from going directly to the playoffs with 16 teams to bringing back all 30 teams and having them play 72 regular season games (most teams already have played around 65) before the postseason. The latter scenario doesn't seem likely, though.

If the season does resume, the remaining games (including the playoffs) could be played at one location to minimize travel and maximize the safety and health of players, team employees and everyone else involved. One such location reportedly being considered is Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida.

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It's important to remember nothing has been announced by the league, and plenty of details must be sorted out before games can start up again. This news of a potential target date for a season return is encouraging, though.