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On the NBA: 3 of 4 Pistons deserve their All-Star honor

Published February 12, 2006 2:42 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Too bad, Utah, that your Jazz don't play in the Eastern Conference.

Consider:

Four Detroit Pistons have been selected to play in the upcoming All-Star Game - only the second time in the last 23 years that has happened, by the way - yet the Jazz have already beaten this Dream Team twice.

If Utah played in the East, can we assume Milt Palacio would be headed for Houston?

Would fans throughout Croatia be glued to their televisions next Sunday, watching the All-Star Game exploits of Gordan Giricek?

Hey, if Utah and Detroit reach the NBA Finals, is there any doubt how Janet Jones will be betting?

Don't get me wrong: Detroit has a nice team. Joe Dumars has put together a group capable of winning another championship. The Pistons are better than two years ago, when they parlayed Karl Malone's knee injury and the exploding Shaq-Kobe feud into a Finals rout of the Lakers.

But four All-Stars?

It seems like overkill to me, or at least a commentary on the rest of the conference.

l Piston point guard Chauncey Billups certainly belongs on any All-Star team. He could be the Most Valuable Player, depending on Dirk Nowitzki's second half and Tim Duncan's health.

l Detroit center Ben Wallace certainly belongs, because he is one of the hardest-working, most productive non-scorers in the NBA history and his type of game isn't rewarded often enough.

l Rip Hamilton probably belongs, because he is a top-20 scorer and plays on a team that is winning far more regularly than other deserving guards like Gilbert Arenas of Washington, Michael Redd of Milwaukee and Jason Kidd of New Jersey.

l Detroit's fourth All-Star is Rasheed Wallace, and he's not an All-Star. Not this year, at least.

The list of more qualified players is longer than the list of Wallace's technical fouls, fines and suspensions.

Beyond Arenas (who Friday was named to the team, replacing the injured Jermaine O'Neal), Redd and Kidd, the Eastern Conference coaches could have voted Richard Jefferson, Chris Webber, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Antawn Jamison or Dwight Howard onto the All-Star team without being wrong.

At least those players would have appreciated it.

"It doesn't matter to me, honestly,” Rasheed Wallace told reporters in Detroit early this week.

"That's not my focus. My while focus is getting the home-court advantage and going through these playoffs and doing what we need to do to get that [championship] hardware. Whether they put our guys on that team or not doesn't matter to me. I know there are All-Stars on this team just from the way they play and the way they do things.”

Of course, this is vintage Wallace.

Remember his seven-game suspension for following an official into the loading dock area of the Rose Garden and threatening him with bodily harm?

Remember his professorial thoughts on racism in the NBA?

Or how about Wednesday night, less than 24 hours before he was named an All-Star?

During the Pistons-Clippers game, Wallace spent much of his time talking trash and staring down L.A. coach Mike Dunleavy.

Wallace played for Dunleavy in Portland six years ago. Apparently, he still blames his ex-coach for the Trail Blazers' meltdown against the Lakers in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals, although a check of the box score does not show Dunleavy missing a shot or committing a turnover.

Welcome to Planet Rasheed.

Again.