DURHAM — Dressed in grey sweats and a grey Philadelphia Phillies hat pulled low on his head, Rasheed Wallace found a spot behind the scorers' table at the Greater NC Pro-Am and settled in.
If the former North Carolina star was doing his best to look inconspicuous, it wasn't long before he was smacking hands with just about everybody who walked by. Later in the night, he got up and patted the backs of the volunteers on press row and wandered over to one of the benches, playfully tapping a player on the shoulder. Before that player could turn around completely, Wallace scurried off to the corner.
Somewhat famous for his adversarial public persona in the NBA, Wallace seems to have an easy rapport with just about everyone at McLendon-McDougald Gym. He has been one of the constants in the summer league, showing up just about every night wearing some sort of Phillies hat.
Wallace declined an opportunity to talk about what he liked about the summer league, but if his actions are any indication, he appears to be in his element.
Before his game Tuesday, Wallace watched 751 South play CEO Munny. When CEO Munny's Will Burton tried a one-handed slam off the rebound of a missed free throw, Wallace started hopping around, excited by what Burton nearly pulled off.
During the game between Wallace's Sheraton Imperial and Next Level Custom (who had former N.C. State standout Josh Powell on its roster), Wallace was largely content to take long-range 3s on the offense end while trying to guard Powell on defense.
He finished with 10 points, six of which came on 3-pointers. When he made a deep shot some four or five paces behind the college arc in the first half, the entire gym let out a loud "Sheed!"
When teammate - and Duke player - Andre Dawkins didn't get a rebound and allowed Seth Curry to shoot - and make - an uncontested 3, Wallace stared at Dawkins with upraised palms, all but shouting "What happened?" And, true to form, he yelled "Awww, come on" after a couple of calls by the officials.
One of the things Wallace was best known for in his NBA career was affinity for technical fouls. He didn't get one Tuesday, but his passion was nonetheless apparent.
"A lot of times in these games, the intensity kind of goes down," Dawkins said. "But with Rasheed on our team, he doesn't let us do that. He keeps us amped a little bit."
The game between Sheraton and Next Level Custom came down to the final minutes, prompting Wallace to exhort his team repeatedly on the defensive end. Even though Curry scored 37 points for Next Level Custom - in a sign of respect, Wallace implored someone on his team to make sure they defended Curry before a critical late possession - Sheraton managed to hold on for a 101-96 win.
After the game, Wallace spotted some of the players on one of the other top teams to let them know Sheraton was still undefeated.
"I kind of knew that's who he is out there," Curry said. "He's always talking, always trying to win. He's that competitive. No matter what the game is for him, he is trying to win. That is what he was doing out there today."