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 at Home: Which superhero is Marcus Smart most like?

Celtics at Home: Which superhero is Marcus Smart most like?

Boston Celtics star Marcus Smart often plays like a superhero on the basketball court.

The versatile guard plays multiple positions on offense and guards all five positions on defense. He'll hit 3-pointers, set up the offense, dive on the floor for loose balls, guard the opposing teams' best player, etc. There aren't many things Smart can't provide the Celtics. This all-around skill set is quite valuable to the C's, especially on defense. Smart was named to the league's All-Defensive first team last season, and he deserves a spot in that group again in 2019-20. 

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In the latest episode of Celtics at Home, one of the topics in the Celtics Census segment was, "which superhero is Marcus Smart most like?"

We asked 300 Celtics fans for the top six answers, and several of them are superheroes you would definitely associate with a player who excels on the defensive end of the court.

NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin and former Celtics center Kendrick Perkins teamed up against C's head coach Brad Stevens and Smart to see who could come up with the right answers. 

Watch the video below to find out which team won. Be sure to check out the NBC Sports Boston YouTube page for more Celtics at Home videos and other content.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Can Celtics, Raptors burst Bucks' title hopes in NBA bubble?

Celtics Talk Podcast: Can Celtics, Raptors burst Bucks' title hopes in NBA bubble?

The Milwaukee Bucks will resume play with a league-best record of 53-12.

But just as we saw the Bucks burst onto the scene as one of the league’s better teams, how will they be impacted by the time off as the league’s restart begins this month?

Will their title hopes burst inside the bubble? One longtime NBA scribe certainly thinks so.

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“I think the two best teams in the East are Boston and Toronto,” veteran Toronto Raptors beat writer Doug Smith of the Toronto Star, said on the Celtics Talk Podcast on Thursday. “I like Milwaukee a lot, but they’ve never been there. And I think that’s a big, big concern. The Raptors' experience and their adaptability in games … I don’t think it gives them an edge, but it’s a big plus for them.”

The Celtics have been talked about often as one of the teams that can potentially upend the Bucks and get out of the East. 

To a lesser extent, the same can be said for the defending NBA champion Raptors, who have been able to successfully navigate through a season filled with injuries to key players to enter the bubble in Orlando with the NBA’s third-best record. 

But you wouldn’t know they were that good by the minimal talk surrounding them as potential repeat champions — which was fueled by the departure of last year's NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers, and 3-and-D ace Danny Green, who now plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. 

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Even with Leonard and Green moving on, Toronto has been a ruggedly tough team in the East. 

Pascal Siakam has emerged as an All-Star this season. Outside of maybe Boston’s Kemba Walker, there’s not a more underrated point guard in the NBA than Kyle Lowry. Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol give Toronto the kind of veteran presence in the frontcourt that all title-contenders long to have on their roster. 

And let’s not forget about head coach Nick Nurse, who will surely get some serious love when the season is over when it comes to Coach of the Year voting. 

While a lot of attention has been paid to how impressive the Raptors have been for years at home, this season they posted an identical 23-9 record on the road as well as on their own home floor. 

Smith said home-court advantage would likely determine the winner of a Boston-Toronto playoff series. But with that being off the table now that all games will be played at a neutral site, Smith still envisions what would potentially be a hard-fought, down-to-the-wire series. 

“I think it’s a seven-game series if they played it in Boston, Toronto, Orlando or on Mars,” Smith said. “These teams are very evenly matched. They’re both very good. They can beat you in a lot of ways. That’s a big thing in the postseason.”

So what would decide the series?

“It comes down to the wings. The wings determine the series,” Smith said. “Can OG Anunoby contribute? Can Norm Powell contribute? How do Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum handle that kind of thing? I think that’s where the series is won or lost.”