Notes from a trip to the NBA Playoffs.
The Pistons have made no secret of the fact that they intend to be as physical as possible with Dwight Howard this series, but that doesn't mean that they wish him any ill will. Rasheed Wallace routinely gave Howard in-game pointers during last year's playoff series, and as I left Detroit's locker room after last night's game, I saw first-hand that the tradition has continued this year.
The area outside the locker room after the game is generally filled with friends and family of the players, and Wallace was messing around with some of the children (in his usual loud, demonstrative way, of course) when Howard walked by. Wallace called Howard over and the two embraced in one of those handshake/man-hug/chest-bump thing that guys do, but instead of quickly releasing, Wallace spoke in Howard's ear for a few moments. Howard listened intently and then thanked him a couple of times.
What wisdom did Rasheed impart? That's between those two. For all I know it was simply a recommendation on where to grab a post-game steak, but I have a hunch it was either some tips on the game or advice to keep his head up after a disappointing 12-point, eight-rebound performance.
Wallace was asked earlier in the night why he was so eager to help Howard, and he readily explained. From A. Sherrod Blakely of Booth Newspapers:
"He's humble," Wallace said. "With all the success that he's had, especially coming off his rookie season, the slam dunk competition, stuff like that ... he's humble." Wallace added: "He doesn't have that flamboyant attitude. That's what I like about him."It's a side of Wallace that most people never see, and it's one reason that for as much as he's vilified in the press, you rarely hear a single player say a bad word about the guy.
While there's always the chance that Howard will use Wallace's advice against him, Wallace said he's not concerned about that. "You ever had an intern?" Wallace asked a reporter prior to Saturday's matchup. "You'll teach an intern some things, but you won't teach that intern everything."