The Blazers were playing the Lakers, and Sabonis was in charge of guarding Shaquille O’Neal, who often gave him fits. During one play, Sabonis accidentally smacked Wallace while trying to draw a foul against Shaq. Wallace, who had a notorious temper during his playing days, was annoyed with Sabonis and later threw a towel in his face as Sabonis sat on the bench. Sabonis became red-faced but did nothing.
Bill Walton, who presented Sabonis for induction to the Hall of Fame, witnessed the incident from press row and regrets not stepping in and punching Wallace in the face. In fact, Walton, like Sabonis, a Portland big man whose career was derailed by injuries, said he feels like he let down mankind.
“It was one of the lowest moments of my life,” he said. “If I was any kind of a man, I would have got up from that broadcast table and walked across the court and punched Rasheed Wallace in the nose. But I let Sabonis and the game of basketball and the human race down that day.”
What Walton didn’t know is the human race almost lost Sheed that same day. According to Antonio Harvey, back in the locker room, furious Sheed was yelling and saying he was going to “f**k up” Sabonis. Harvey also said that Sabonis was “built like a tree”, with the “biggest head you will ever see.” Sabonis calmly looked at Harvey and said, “I will kill him”, it was straight Ivan Drago from Rocky voice. Harvey, realizing Sabonis is dead-serious and fears his Jailblazers teammates won’t be able to stop Sabonis from “choking the life” out of Sheed, starts yelling at the Wallace to shut up. After that, Rasheed realized Sabonis was very serious so he stopped instantly and was quiet.
Sheed survived the incident but was suspended for the final game of the season for “conduct detrimental to the success of the team.”