PORTLAND -- Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan has had enough of the antics of Portland's Rasheed Wallace.
In the second quarter, Wallace and Utah's Thurl Bailey got tangled up, and Wallace concluded the incident by popping Bailey in the head with his arm. It wasn't clear from replays whether Wallace was throwing a punch that missed or just swinging his arm around wildly, but Sloan thinks it definitely was uncalled for."Did you see the roundhouse thing that Wallace threw?" he said, indignantly. When someone suggested it was an elbow, Sloan said, "It wasn't an elbow, it was one of these" and he made an overhand hitting motion.
Sloan's reaction when Wallace smacked Bailey was to charge out onto the court toward the Portland player. The 24-year-old Wallace is 6-foot-11 and weighs 230; Sloan is 6-5 but 57 years old. Wallace said it wasn't a good idea on Sloan's part.
"He almost walked into that one," Wallace said. "That's a no-no."
Sloan said the Wallace-as-thug pattern has been clear.
"That's about four incidents he's been involved with," the Jazz coach said. "That tells me he's gotten the game out of perspective. I'd just as soon lose as play that way. I've told that to Karl Malone, I've told that to all of my players. I don't want to win that bad."
When one media type told Wallace that Sloan had called him a cheap-shot artist (Sloan actually didn't use that term), Wallace said, "I don't think I'm a cheap-shot artist. If I was, you all would know that by now. It's just something to run in the paper. Being a ballplayer, that's one of the lightest things I've heard about me, so it doesn't affect me at all."
Wallace described the incident as just routine.
"Our arms got locked up," he said. "He came in there and locked my arm up. All I was doing was throwing my arms in the air. I ain't sweatin' it. That's their plan, anyway. But once again, they got foiled."
Asked what he meant by "that's their plan," Wallace explained, "They sent Thurl in there to get me heated. They might get me a foul or whatever, but it for damn sure ain't going to get me ejected."
Wallace said Sloan's tirade didn't surprise him.
"Of course they're going to say that now," he said. "They want the refs on their side. That wasn't no roundhouse. I'm not stupid enough to sit up here and throw a punch, 'cause that's going to mean what? I miss the next game. I might wrestle with them or whatever, but I'm not going to bite the full apple."
Portland coach Mike Dunleavy said he expects the incident to get blown out of proportion.
"I'm sure there will be a number of spins on it, to hype it up," he said. "Somebody said they thought Rasheed threw a punch. Absolutely not. If he threw a punch, he's the biggest girl in the world. Oh, excuse me, woman."
Dunleavy said Wallace's refusal to be baited by Sloan shows improved maturity.
"We're getting better at not taking the bait," he said. "Basically, it was a nothing play."