Wallace heads to refs locker room
LOS ANGELES -- As Celtics coach Doc Rivers sat at the podium suggesting Rasheed Wallace might have played his final game of his career on Thursday, the 15-year veteran stood outside the locker room of the game officials trying to talk to a group that has been intertwined with much of his career.
It wasn't clear if he was trying to discuss the calls that went against Boston in its Game 7 loss to the Lakers in the NBA Finals or just say goodbye to a couple of veteran officials.
Wallace exited the Boston locker room before it opened to the media and navigated his way toward the team bus before diverting to the official's locker room nearby. He managed to open the door and talk with an unidentified person behind the door, before arena and NBA security ushered him back out.
Wallace stuck his head into the locker room and appeared to say, "Danny, I just want to talk," possibly to referee Danny Crawford, but quickly got removed from the room.
Wallace, wearing sunglasses and carrying his gear, waited about five minutes outside the official's locker room guarded by arena security before departing for the team bus without talking to the officials or media nearby.
The veteran forward, who is the NBA all-time leader in technical fouls, did not appear confrontational. While waiting he muttered again about simply wanting to talk and that it was nothing bad.
But security would have no part of it, likely fearing he was angry about the way Game 7 played out.
The security guard outside the official's locker room declined to comment. Another security guard asked if Wallace had made contact with referee Joey Crawford and was informed that Joey Crawford had already left the area before Wallace arrived.
A spokesman for the NBA said Thursday night he was unaware of any incident involving Wallace and the officials.
Wallace, who made a spot start in place of injured Kendrick Perkins, registered 11 points, eight rebounds, two blocks, and two assists over 36 gutsy minutes. With Boston trailing, 79-76, Wallace fouled out with 25 seconds remaining when whistled for a shooting foul on Kobe Bryant.
Bryant made the free throws that proved to be the difference in an 83-79 triumph in the title contest.
The Lakers finished with a 37-17 edge in free throws.
Rivers heaped praise on Wallace for his efforts and noted it might have been his final NBA game, lending credence to the suggestion that Wallace simply wanted to offer goodbyes to veteran officials Danny Crawford and Joey Crawford.
"He was a warrior," Rivers said. "I don't know if Rasheed will ever play again. You know, he's one of them. I think he took that out on the floor with him. I think he is thinking about retiring, and I thought you could see that in his play. He was dying out there. When he got the cramps and the strains, he was just trying to figure out a way of staying on the floor.
"We had to keep subbing him for one minute and two minutes, and I thought the reason we got up early was because of Rasheed Wallace. We got it low in the post, he started scoring, and I thought what happened was late in the game he got tired and had the injuries and we couldn't go down anymore, and I think that had a huge impact on how we were playing. We had to go away from the post almost because of fatigue. It's the first time all year that you can actually say, at the end of the day, we were old at the end of the game because we didn't have a enough bodies. I thought it hurt us."
Wallace signed a three-year, $19 million contract last offseason. He stands to make $6.3 million if he returns next season and $6.8 million in 2011-12.
Asked about Wallace's future, Kevin Garnett didn't sound optimistic about his return.
"Not a good one ... I see a lot of myself in him and we have a lot of the same ties and a lot of the same characteristics. Both the class of '95 ... so for him to come in and give his thanks and his regards after a loss like this ... it was a difficult night."
Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.
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