|Saturday, January 18
Wallace suspended for threatening ref; Blazers cry foul
NEW YORK -- Trail Blazers forward Rasheed Wallace was suspended Saturday for seven games without pay for confronting and threatening a referee outside the Rose Garden in Portland.
Referees mentioned the confrontation in a routine report filed after Portland's 100-92 victory over Memphis on Wednesday night.
"He accosted a referee and threatened him,'' NBA senior vice president Stu Jackson said during a conference call Saturday.
Jackson refused to elaborate on the confrontation, which happened after the game in the arena's loading dock, where players and other game personnel park their cars.
"It's absolutely not fair,'' Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks said prior to his team's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. "I certainly don't believe he deserved seven games. I think this is a result of Rasheed's reputation and the Portland Trail Blazers' reputation.''
Jackson said there was no physical contact between Wallace and referee Tim Donaghy.
"We strongly believe the penalty that we issued was appropriate for Rasheed's actions,'' Jackson said.
Wallace can appeal the suspension. His agent, Bill Strickland, did not immediately return phone messages left at his office.
"Even if he appeals, you're not going to get back seven games,'' Cheeks said. "We're still going to lose him. An appeal doesn't do any good for us. It's just something to put on a piece of paper.''
Wallace scored a season-high 38 points and had 10 rebounds against Memphis. Donaghy called a technical foul on him with 9:45 to go in the third quarter. The call appeared to be for the way Wallace returned the ball to another referee after he was called for a foul.
Wallace led the league in technical fouls the past three seasons, breaking his own record by getting 41 in 2000-01. On Feb. 1, 2001, Wallace threw a towel that grazed referee Gary Benson's face after the official had ejected him.
Wallace had 27 technical fouls last season, and has just five this season.
"I really believe Rasheed has made major strides,'' Cheeks said. "At the same time the officials have to change as well. It's not all on Rasheed. He's walked away a lot more than some officials have.''
Jackson said Wallace's prior indiscretions were taken into account in determining his new punishment.
"The actions here were completely out of bounds, and they were not appropriate and will not be tolerated,'' Jackson said.
Wallace, who is signed through the 2003-04 season, is making $16.2 million this season and will lose $1.26 million due to the suspension. The power forward has led the Blazers in scoring the past three seasons, making the All-Star team twice, and he leads the team again this season at 17.4 points per game.
He was fined $15,000 last month for his actions following a post-game brawl between the Blazers and the Golden State Warriors. Wallace allegedly tried to go after a fan who threw a wad of chewing gum on him.
Teammate Bonzi Wells was suspended for two games for fighting the Warriors' Chris Mills, and Mills was suspended for three games.
Also this season, Wallace and teammate Damon Stoudamire were cited for misdemeanor marijuana possession in Washington state in late November. The players were passengers in a car that was stopped for speeding on the way back to Portland after a game in Seattle.
Wallace and Stoudamire both pleaded innocent to charges and were expected to appear at a hearing on the matter in Lewis County District Court on Jan. 27.
"We as the Portland Trail Blazers have been in some unfortunate situations,'' Cheeks said. "Rasheed getting in a verbal confrontation with officials is not something we condone.''