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I refuse to over-dramatize headbands with an over-dramatic headline


I don't think the Wallace-Skiles headband 'feud'  (My thoughts are this: the team's rule may be stupid, but Wallace defying it is completely wrong.) is much to fret over until we see what happens next game or at least get some quotes. I don't see the no-headband rule being lifted, so either Ben plays or he's benched and/or suspended.  A headband likely has little use when you don't get in the game, but Wallace seems to really like wearing them.

So until the great standoff, (and hopefully there's some resolution before Tuesday's game) I thought it'd be interesting to look at these differing quotes on Ben Wallace.

One is from Detroit News writer Chris McCosky (hat tip to Need4Sheed):

The headlines are already making snarky references to the "$60 million man." You know Ben hates that. He's Mr. Blue Collar, everyman, just trying to feed my family guy. To be viewed as an overpaid underachiever, oh my goodness. That has to be eating him up.

Is Ben unhappy in Chicago? Yes, he is. He's not throwing in the towel, but the transition hasn't been pleasant. When Skiles and John Paxson came to Ben's house over the summer to make their recruiting pitch, Ben asked Skiles point-blank if there was anything he needed to know about him, his coaching style or his personal preferences. Skiles told him no, he loved Ben just as he was. But the minute Ben signed the contract, Skiles pulled him aside and told him that he could no longer wear the headbands and arm bands that had been his trademark in Detroit. Strike one.

Skiles has also embarrassed Ben during practice several times -- stopping practice to make him tuck in his shirt and ordering him to tape his ankles (which Ben never does) -- silly power-trippy things like that. Strike two.

And now Skiles is yo-yoing him in and out of games -- the ultimate indignity to Ben. Strike three? Nah, probably just a foul tip. Like I said, there's too much at stake for Ben to blow it up this quickly. But, these are not fun times in the Windy City.

I've never read this guy before, and don't like letting biases automatically invalidate columnists' opinions (My Skiles-love probably costs me some journalistic cred, if I had any), but obviously he seems like a Wallace fan. Plus, since he lead one post by gloating over his prediction that a Wallace-Skiles feud would occur by Thanksgiving, he at the least seems like kindof an ass.

While maybe also an ass(to some), Sam Smith is still my guy. I was kindof surprised at his full-bore assault on Wallace:

So Wallace, benched Friday in Philadelphia and finishing with zero rebounds the first time he started a game in his NBA career, apparently decided to show coach Scott Skiles who was really important.

It was the essence of selfish behavior and contrary to the team ethic Wallace is said to endorse.

Sure, you run the risk of further alienating Wallace. What then? Is he going to retire? I wondered two weeks ago watching his play whether he had.

There's plenty of opportunity for Wallace to be the player the Bulls thought they were getting and the team to have an excellent season. Wallace always played best with a chip on his shoulder, when he felt least respected and would show everyone. What better chance than now?

Because if the Bulls don't stand up and establish the authority of the team, this has the potential for an ugly resolution.

This, by the way, is nothing new for Wallace.

Just last season, he refused to enter a game late in the season because he was angry at something, usually a lack of a role in the offense. That's laughable because he shoots like an injured ostrich. I always felt the Pistons' playoff meltdown started when he openly challenged the authority of new coach Flip Saunders late in the regular season by declining to enter a game. In the playoffs, it was a virtual team rebellion.

Before this season started, Wallace in an ESPN interview blasted Saunders and commended all his former coaches, bringing giggles to all as Wallace had previously blasted them. He's an oversensitive, easily embarrassed, remote soul. I noticed him seeming to limp during the Friday game when he was benched and he was off for some MRI Sunday. His history, despite the supposed "warrior" mentality, is to come up with some small injury when things aren't going well to explain the issue, usually poor free-throw shooting.

Pistons players say Wallace has burned up the cell-phone satellites to them in recent weeks complaining about the Bulls, Skiles and signing in Chicago.

My guess is the Bulls would gladly take the money and send him back.

I recommend reading through both links in their entirety, but you get the point that they are two completely different depictions of Ben Wallace, with Sam Smith essentially calling him a fraud. And with the early returns I'd side more with him than what's coming out of Detroit.

So, Ok, I ended the Sam quote at that sentence for effect. The following lines make the most sense:

But they're stuck with one another and will have to make the best of it. And they can make it good.

 These things happen in pro sports. It's not like players have to like whom they play for. I don't recall many parties for Jerry Krause. And it wasn't like the Pistons were hanging out with Larry Brown. You play, be professional and enjoy the rewards.

He's not going to be traded (if you suggest and explore possibilities in this space you will be deemed blog-a-bull moron), and unless he's completely self-centered Ben Wallace isn't going to submarine the season just a dozen games into it.

Update: KC Johnson has the scoop on the organization's next steps:

General manager John Paxson is to talk Monday after practice about Wallace's breaking a team rule by wearing a headband in Saturday's victory over the Knicks. However, Wallace is expected to miss practice because he needs an MRI on his right wrist and fingers after injuring them in the second quarter in New York.

Wallace played after the injury, which neither he nor coach Scott Skiles addressed in New York. Paxson hopes similar solidarity will ensue once this public dispute fades.

There's plenty there on the "brewing" insubordination of Wallace, with his dislike of taped ankles and headphones-only locker rooms, to name a couple instances with the team's rules. Also, Johnson writes the no-headband rule may be originating from owner Jerry Reinsdorf.

UPDATE 2: KC has the word from practice today, where Wallace and Pax had a talk. Quote the Pax:

I don't expect this to cause our team to fracture, which is always something you worry about. That rule was borne out of some things I saw when I first got the job that didn't look good. It was more out of uniformity than anything else. It wasn't to take an individual's personality away from the game. Anything can be revisited. But I'm not saying that rule is going to be revisited tomorrow.