Do I know where I was February 9, 2004? Of course I do. Every good Atlantan knows exactly where he or she was on that date. It was the day that God opened up the heavens, stuck out his fist, and fist-pounded the Peach City.
I was driving home from a paintball lesson in my Plymouth Prowler listening to 680 The Fan when I heard the glorious news.
“Atlanta Hawks acquire Rasheed Wallace along with Wesley Person for Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Theo Ratliff, and Dan Dickau.”
By the Ghost of Tree Rollins, was this true? Sheed!??? A legit big man with range and attitude coming to the ATL? Our city’s crest says “Welcome to Atlanta Where the Playas Play”. Sheed was a playa and he could definitely play here. He worked hard, spoke his mind, and had a nasty streak. It was the perfect marriage between a player and a city. Also, I was happy to see Shareef Abdur-Rahim go. My cousin once sold him an air conditioner and said he was rude.
I rushed out to Northpoint Mall and bought a red, away Rasheed Wallace Atlanta Hawks jersey and wore it for a week (My job at the time was playing online poker at my dad’s house so I could wear it to work). Atlanta was buzzing. Not since Hollywood Hulk Hogan fought Goldberg on WCW Monday Nitro has the city felt so electric and alive. People were just happy. We couldn’t wait to see our man in action.
His first game was against the former Eastern Conference Champs, the New Jersey Nets in New Jersey. My cousin and I went to Twin Peaks Sports Bar in Buckhead to watch the game on TV. The bar was crazy. Everyone had on Sheed Jerseys. My cousin was at Woodstock ‘99 and said that was the only other time he felt so much love and camaraderie between strangers in one place.
Our starting lineup was lethal. Jason Terry. Stephen Jackson. Boris Diaw. Joel Pryzbilla. And then our savior, SHEED. This was the future. This team could battle for decades to come. The game was a passionate revelation and, while our Hawks lost the game, Sheed made his mark on the team and on the city. 20 points, 6 rebounds, 5 blocks, 2 assists, 1 steal.
BALL DON’T LIE.
My cousin turned to me and said, next to passing his air conditioner maintenance exam, this was the most hopeful he has ever been. I went to bed so happy, dreaming of a Hawk’s championship parade down Peachtree St.
I woke up the next morning, put on my Sheed jersey, went to my dad’s computer for work, and checked espn.com. That’s when I saw the devastating news. It knocked the wind out of me. Like getting hit point blank in the gut with a Semi-Automatic Diablo Paintball Gun.
“Rasheed Wallace traded to the Detroit Pistons.”
What??? How? Why? 1 game? Is that even possible? He was our savior. The Messiah of the Peach City. I threw off my jersey in despair. I am not sure what happened to it. My Dad probably hung it up somewhere, I don’t know. Rasheed Wallace went on to win the NBA Championship four months later when the Detroit Pistons defeated the Los Angeles Lakers. The Atlanta Hawks have yet to advance past the 2nd round since then.
On Feb 9, 2004, the ball did lie. Only in The A.