“Watches, sneakers, Beats [headphones], hoodies, book-bags. Man, I can’t wait to come back next year. I want to see what we’re getting next year.” That’s how J.R. Smith explained the experience of being on a team with LeBron James. Sure, a lot of times, LBJ is giving out gifts so his teammates would promote his business ventures, but hey – free stuff is free stuff.
It’s not uncommon for the max guy on the team to give out gifts to teammates at the end of a successful season. Especially if that season ended with a parade. Out of all the gifts we heard of, Rasheed Wallace wins the most original award.
After the Detroit Pistons upset the L.A. Lakers in 2004 to claim the NBA title, Wallace, as one of the team veterans, came up with something special for the first game of the next season. Others would expect the latest gadgets or mobile phones, but Sheed went the other way – he captured the spirit of the team. Wallace gave away replicas, not of NBA rings or trophies, but WWE belts. Perfect gift for the toughest team in the league.
Still, Rasheed had to make it a bit difficult for some of his teammates – just to stay on brand. He said the WWE belts would go only to team members who won the title AND stayed with the team for next season. That would mean Mike James and Mehmet Okur wouldn’t get the belts. James went to Milwaukee, and Okur joined Utah.
“Yeah, I’m going to get my belt. Me and Sheed fought the whole night about that. I kept giving him cheap shots about my belt because I want my belt.”Mehmet Okur
A lot of thought went into the belts. Wallace came up with the idea as a rookie, so he had a lot of time to think about what he wants the belts to look like. Each player got a special engraving on their belt – “The Body” for Ben Wallace, “Smooth” for Chauncey Billups, and “Rip City” for Richard Hamilton. Sheed didn’t forget people behind the scenes. Management and the training staff got them too. Everyone wore them when David Stern came to Detroit for the rings ceremony. Well, everyone except team GM Joe Dumars.
He played with the original Bad Boys. They would need UFC replicas.