Before any of the 30 ejections or 300+ regular season technical fouls — including a NBA record 41 during the 200-2001 season — Rasheed Wallace showed in a preseason game during his rookie year vs the eventual 72-10 Bulls that he and the refs weren’t going to be the best of friends.
During a scuffle between Bulls center Luc Longley and Chris Webber, Rasheed thought it was a good idea to bring a ball to a fist fight and sucker punch Luc in the back of the head. He missed Luc and ended up hitting an innocent casualty: the ref…in the head! Luc and Webber were both ejected and surprisingly, Rasheed, who was held back by fellow UNC alum Michael Jordan, was not. I guess the Ball Does Lie sometimes.
As for the game, the Bulls destroyed the Bullets 112-87 and the Webber-less Bullets didn’t do much better in the regular season. In their first regular-season meeting, Rasheed scored 17 in a loss that saw Jordan go for 46. Their next double digit loss saw MJ go for 32 and in their final meeting, Sheed only scored 4 in a 17-point loss, while MJ scored 37 in 36 minutes.
Sheed was long gone by the time the Bulls and Bullets met in the 97 playoffs, but here’s a great story from Chris Webber about the series.
“One time we played in Washington. We played a five game series against the Bulls. It was the year they won 72 games. We lose all three games by a total of seven points. I saw Michael Jordan come into our locker room with a cigar, while it was lit, and said, ‘Who’s going to check me tonight?’ And we looked at Calbert Cheaney and we were laughing like little school kids knowing that Calbert Cheaney was going to get him, we knew it wasn’t a game for Mike. He was going to be there and he was going to be playing like he said. Game Three we get off the bus and Juwan (Howard) is from Chicago and used to workout there. I’ll never forget, Jordan was sitting on his Ferrari and Pippen was right there and they have a cigar lit. We get off the bus and we have to pass them with a lit cigar. You want to talk about posturing? Forget Phil Jackson. You got Michael Jordan there behind the scenes smoking a cigar before the game, letting us know that he’s the Red Auerbach before the game even started. It was almost like, ‘I lit the cigar. I’m celebrating already. This is just a formality, you guys getting on the court tonight.”