Before Rasheed Wallace grew into an intense and ferocious player on the court, he was once a cautious college kid who attended the University of North Carolina.
During his first year in college, Wallace admitted that he wasn't confident in his handles and overall game. So when the opportunity to challenge the greatest basketball player of all time from Noth Carolina arrived, Sheed made a business decision.
When Sheed ducked Michael Jordan
In his appearance on the "All the Smoke" podcast, the 1-time NBA champion revealed that there was a time when he ducked from a challenge to compete against Michael Jordan. It happened in 1993 when Wallace was a freshman in North Carolina and was surprised to see Jordan pay a visit to the campus.
"Yeah my freshman year, I remember he came to practice. It was after or before the season, he had time. At first, I'm like, 'Alright, damn Mike.' And after practice as a freshman, you know you gotta get your work in so I did that," Wallace remembered.
"I go into the locker room and they all playing Rise and Shine with Mike. So they're like, where Sheed at, where Sheed at? So right out there on the floor they're like, you wanna play 1-on-1? What? Are y'all crazy? I'm not gonna sit out there and let this dude embarrass me. Ayo, I can't mess with him. Cuz at the time, I wasn't confident in my handle like that and I know he gonna get up in me. So I was like, 'Y'all crazy, Imma stand here and watch him kill y'all!'" Wallace added.
Sheed outgrew all that intimidation
Fortunately for Wallace, he eventually outgrew that intimidation and developed his game. He went from averaging 9.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game in his freshmen year to 16.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks in his sophomore year. His performance in his sophomore year earned him a trip to the NBA Draft in 1995, where Wallace was picked by the Washington Wizards (at that time called Bullets) 4th overall.
Wallace played against Jordan and the Chicago Bulls for the first time in his 34th career game in the pros. He dropped 17 points and 4 rebounds but lost to his fellow North Carolina alumni that day. This was also the same game Jordan scored 46 points on 51.6% shooting from the field as he was at the peak of his prime years. This alone should certainly justify why Wallace was intimated with Mike once upon a time.