New L.A. Lakers assistant coach Rasheed Wallace had many memories battling the Purple and Gold, even giving a young Kobe Bryant his "Welcome to the NBA" moment, which The Black Mamba didn't take lightly.
"He tried to f**k me up but I wasn't going to have it"
Bryant knew how rookies were welcomed in the NBA. The veterans would boss them around, play pranks, or rough them up. Kobe decided he wouldn't let that happen to him. This was one of the reasons why other veterans weren't fond of him, and Wallace was one of them. Kobe shared how Sheed welcomed him to the league during his rookie year.
"During my rookie year, we were in Portland and I drove into the lane and Rasheed Wallace knocked me to the ground and stared at me. He tried to f**k me up but I wasn't going to have it. I got right back up and drove even harder the next time. I really let people know early that I wasn't the guy you could do that to."
Sheed played with the Portland Trail Blazers, a team that went against Kobe's Lakers multiple times in the Western Conference playoffs. Meanwhile, as a member of the Detroit Pistons, he helped them win the 2004 championship over Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal.
How Sheed could help the Lakers
Sheed was one of the pioneers of having that "stretch 4" skillset before it was even a thing. Back in his playing days, he transformed his game from a back-to-the-basket big man to a sweet-shooting forward. This will be vital to the Lakers' big men in the coming season. Also, Wallace could teach a thing or two about toughness.
Head coach Darvin Ham and Wallace won a title in 2004, ironically against the team they are leading next season. They were known as tough defenders who liked to grind out wins. However, it remains to be seen how they could incorporate that into the Lakers' roster, given the players' age. Are they willing to sacrifice their body to make a stop when most of them are thinking of how to prolong their careers?
As someone who experienced it all, Rasheed Wallace's communication with the players will also be crucial. He knows what gets them going and what makes them tick. As a legend of the game, the Lakers' players should look up to him for advice and guidance. From the looks of it, it will be an interesting new season for the fans of Purple and Gold with the addition of former Lakers' nemesis turning into their assistant coach.