Living Legend, four time NBA All-Star, NBA champion and Philadelphia native Rasheed Wallace is getting a street re-named after him to honor his contributions to his community. 18th and Hunting Park will now be known as Rasheed Wallace Road. The ceremony takes place Friday, June 24th at 2p. Below is a conversation with Wallace about the significance of this as well as his thoughts on his new assistant coaching job with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Q. So Rasheed, there’s big things going on. You are finally getting your own street. There’s a street renaming happening. On Friday, 18th street and Hunting Park is going to be renamed to Rasheed Wallace Road. You got a road! How many people have a road? Not a street. Not a block. You got a road!
A. Oh no doubt. It’s definitely love and I’m thankful for it. I’m blessed. I take it all in stride. And I think the best thing about it is that it’s right next to my old alma mater. So it all just coincides together.
Q. I was gonna say you went to Simon Gratz. Now these kids that are in Simon Gratz are going to come out and they’re going to be walking on Rasheed Wallace Road. What does that mean to you as a kid right here from Philly?
A. It means a lot. It means a lot. It means that, I was recognized for all of the hard work and a lot of the things that I did. I always came back for many years. We did free basketball camps at Gratz, one of the first camps outside of Sonny Hill camp to give kids hot lunch, you know, just doing things for the community. So it’s always been love but this right here, I mean this, I’m at a loss for words. To me this beats a lot of things. This beats any type of mural or any type of trophy. Like you just said, it’s a whole road like, it’s gonna come up on GPS!
Q. Right! You’re going to be driving and say that’s my name! How does your family feel because your family must be overjoyed?
A. Oh, yeah, definitely. Like I said, we’re all very happy about it. You know, my mom, she was the one when I first broke the news to her, you know, she gave her little mom smile and everything like all right, that boy did right. I’m just happy and excited that my parents are proud of me. That’s the biggest thing and my kids will be there and my friends and family, my nephews. It’s all a good thing.
Q. The ceremony is at 2 pm on Friday. You got a busy day. You’re gonna need a couple of outfits because at 9 am you have a kids basketball camp. At 12 pm, you have a block party and then the ceremony at 2 pm That’s a long day!
A. All in a day work. The easiest part for real for real is the basketball camp. That’s right up my alley. Working with high school kids. So that’s what I want. That’s right up my alley and then going into the block party, of course. That’s the cool down session. You go and have some fun dance a little bit. Everybody plays with the kids. Then its ceremony time.
Q. So it’s all in the same area?
A. Yes. Yes. All in the same area.
Q. Rasheed, you do so much for the community. How long did it take for this to happen because I was talking to Dawn Staley and she was telling me it was like a process to get all this going to have her street renamed. So how long has this been in the works for you?
A. Oh, man. It’s been what quite a few months. Maybe a year.
Q. A year? So it was Cindy Bass who came to you about it?
A. Tumar Alexander. He started working on it and then Cindy got everything going.
Q. Incredible! Now you were telling me behind the scenes that you actually had a radio show in Portland? How did that come about? And you were actively playing at the time, right?
A.Yes, I was. It was fun. It was Saturday nights. It was called “Sheed And The Fam.” I did it with my three cousins. And we pretty much bought that whole national hip hop scene to Portland.
Q. Wow, that’s incredible. So in addition to your radio career and your basketball career. You are coaching. And now they say that you’re the assistant coach for the Lakers. Congratulations.
A. Appreciate it.
Q. I know you haven’t spoken about it. But ESPN, everybody has reported on it. Congratulations, man. This is a big deal.
A. Yeah, I haven’t spoken too much about it or anything. You know, it’s, I’m not one to talk a lot. You know me. It is what it is. But I’m thankful for it. It’s going to be a hell of a ride.
Q. We’re excited. Tell me about that process. How long did that take?
A. Takes a while. I started actually some years ago with me coaching high school, right. I was coaching high school down in North Carolina, Durham, for like about two three years. Also coaching AAU teams. And then I had the pleasure of working with Penny Hardaway last year down in Memphis. That’s my guy, too. You know, he looked out for me and gave me that opportunity to become that collegiate coach. And I learned a lot of things from him, both on and off the court. You know how that whole collegiate business is way different from the NBA.
Q. Yeah, different and now that student athletes can get paid for endorsements and things like that, that changes the game.
A. Different set of rules right there. Yeah, it changes the game big time. But I mean, I’m glad the athletes are getting paid. Of course, there’s gonna be some repercussions with that situation once they get a handle on it. But I’m glad they are getting paid because they make these schools so much money, you know, millions and billions of dollars. But you know, and then from there, I coached the NBA for a little bit with the Pistons for a year. And I’m now having this opportunity with my guy D. Ham is a blessing.
Q. And you guys played together. So it must be like a full circle moment.
A. It is. We did a lot of stuff together. Like that’s one of my best buddies. When he coached in New Mexico, and in the D league, the Developmental league, before the G League started. He coached the team down in Albuquerque and he invited me down. So I was down there probably for about maybe three weeks or a month. And that’s when the coaching bug got planted. Seeing what he was doing and the way that guys were moving and his energy. And I was like, yeah, that’s something I could do with the shorties.
Q. It’ll be interesting because they need a coach like you. You need to figure out how to make this LeBron, Westbrook and Davis trio work, because right now it looks like Russ is trying to find his footing. And you know, those are all awesome players. And I just feel like you’re like the perfect guy to come in and kind of relate to them like on a player level, you know?
A. It will happen. You’re dealing with veteran players. It will happen. They got the mindset.
Q. Okay, well, we’ll see what you can do for the Lakers. I don’t want them doing better than the Sixers. Let’s be clear.
A. I’m a Sixers fan. I’m just brown bagging it you know, but I’m a Sixers fan at heart.
Q. Maybe you’ll coach for us one day. Would you like that coaching for the Sixers, the hometown?
A. I would rather coach here than play here. When I was playing, I didn’t want to come and play here cuz I know how we are as fans. Even though, I’m not an Eagles fan, I know fans are rough on the Eagles, the Flyers, the Sixers, the Phillies. Everybody! I’m like nah, I don’t want to play here. There’s gonna be fights all the time.
Q. You’re family is going to want to show up. Everybody is going to want to be there.
A. They gon throw batteries and all that stuff at me. You know how we do! You know how we do!
The street naming takes place Friday at 2 pm at 18th street and Hunting Park, the soon to be Rasheed Wallace Road.