- The Washington Times - Friday, January 11, 2002

Rasheed Wallace reports to work with a sweet turnaround jump shot, the requisite body art and an omnipotent inner child.

He receives a clean uniform before each game. It might improve his disposition if the uniform came with a pacifier, a box of Pampers and a nanny.

Wallace is the eternal victim who suffers from a severe form of arrested development. In NBA parlance, he is a crybaby. Nobody likes a crybaby, except the dreamers.

The Wizards are in a position to dream, and no one begrudges the dream, given what passes as the competition in the Eastern Conference.

Here's the dream: A healthy Michael Jordan and Richard Hamilton are joined by a relatively stable Wallace. Welcome to the NBA Finals, Washington.

This is the gossip going around the NBA at the moment, fanned by the desperation of the Trail Blazers and the improbable ascent of the Wizards.

Maybe the Wizards are only one low-post threat away from a date with the Lakers in June, and nothing against Jahidi White, only what he calls his hands.

The price for Wallace would be steep, starting with Kwame Brown, another body or two and possibly a first-round pick in the draft.

Wallace could put the Wizards over the top in the East or he could forget to take his medication and succumb to a series of team-deflating meltdowns.

Wallace has the same world view as Mark Cuban. They both think the referees are out to get them. That goes double for Wallace. He has earned the distinction.

Wallace was up to 11 technical fouls going into the game last night. That pace merits a pat on his mixed-up head following his record-setting 41 technical fouls last season.

Wallace is an equal-opportunity kook who is as hard on his coaches and teammates as he is on referees.

Wallace threw a towel in the face of teammate Arvydas Sabonis last season. Sabonis is recovering from the incident in Lithuania this season. Mike Dunleavy Sr., the team's former head babysitter, is recovering from the stands in Durham, N.C.

Wallace blows off team functions and then blows his stack after a call goes the other way. He pollutes the environment around him.

The sun never comes out in his neighborhood. He lives the real-life version of "Groundhog Day," only his days are always gloomy and conspiratorial. He wakes up on the wrong side of the bed each day and blames it on the referees. He asks: "Why do they hate me so?"

Wallace could have a "constellation of neurological deficits." That is what Mike Tyson is said to have. Both chew on ears, after all, although Wallace just figuratively.

Bob Whitsitt, the general manager of the Trail Blazers, hired a new fall guy this season in response to the worst team dynamics in the NBA. Maurice Cheeks, a mellow sort on the surface, must have a sadistic side. Whatever they are paying Cheeks, it is not enough.

The team follows Wallace's lead, with predictable results. Damon Stoudamire aspires to be Stephon Marbury, Scottie Pippen is second-guessing another general manager and Shawn Kemp eases the pain of his league-leading alimony payments with a second and third helping of mashed potatoes.

Someone should have washed Wallace's mouth out with soap a long time ago. Or ordered him to stand in the corner of the locker room with his nose pressed against the wall.

Wallace would serve his cause well if he just would count to 10, assuming he can count to 10. He probably flunked deportment in elementary school. He talked excessively, was disruptive and did not play well with others.

Wallace has $80 million talent and a 10-cent head. He must believe in the power of negative thinking. Whenever he tries to win and influence a referee, he starts with bleep, bleep and then adds bleep, bleep for good measure. Translated, it means: "Would you be my friend?"

Wallace keeps it real. Give him that. He keeps it real real, and the Trail Blazers have the dysfunction to prove it and the motivation to trade him.

The Pistons and Knicks raise to three the number of teams said to be intrigued with Wallace.

All three, the Wizards in particular, have a lot to consider, notably the capacity of Wallace to one day act his age instead of his hat size.

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