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Quit talking the talk

This playoff guarantee thing has gotten out of hand

Posted: Tuesday May 16, 2006 12:42PM; Updated: Tuesday May 16, 2006 1:44PM
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Rasheed Wallace's guarantee went up in flames as the Pistons dropped Game 4 to the Cavaliers 74-72, evening the series at 2-2.
Rasheed Wallace's guarantee went up in flames as the Pistons dropped Game 4 to the Cavaliers 74-72, evening the series at 2-2.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Much like the first 80-degree day of March, Rasheed Wallace's first playoff-related guarantee seems to come earlier each year. On Monday, he made the bold prediction that not only would the Pistons win Game 4 of their series against the Cavaliers, but they would win the entire series without returning to Cleveland. When a non-clinching game in the second round is the subject of a stern promise, this whole playoff-guarantee thing may be getting a little out of hand.

There was apparently a time long before I was born when the guarantee meant something. Nobody can forget the stories of Joe Namath promising a Super Bowl III win, and it hasn't even diminished his legend that the most famous proclamation he's made since probably went something like, "I guarantee you guys I can get to first base with Suzy Kolber." 

Even though he burst out of the gates last night and played a game that's not going to make Pistons fans forget Jerome Williams, 'Sheed's own past guarantees have panned out pretty well; prior to this instance, the Pistons had never lost a game he'd promised to bring home. It's certainly possible that the other guys raise their games so that Wallace will be vindicated. You'd play harder too, if losing held the prospect of angering a guy whose standard facial expression fluctuates between "I'll hit you with a bat" and "I would not hesitate to eat you if you sneeze in my presence."

Still, the second round of the playoffs is a pretty weak place to break out the guarantee gambit. The subtext of this one was basically, "Yes, I will bravely stand before you and say that we will beat a clearly inferior team that's reeling from the tragic death of a beloved family member. While I'm being gutsy, I'm going to go ahead and say that the new Robin Williams movie RV will probably suck, too." Did anyone really need to be told that? The Pistons should beat the Cavs in the series, unless it turns out that LeBron really does have superpowers.

Cleveland's largely a one-man team, and the Pistons have been repeatedly mentioned as being among the greatest teams of all time. The only weaker guarantee 'Sheed could have made would have been, "I am definitely going to get a technical in the playoffs. That's a fact. And if you watch the games with your buddies, I solemnly swear that at least one of them will ask you why I have a white patch of hair on the back of my head." That Rasheed couldn't even deliver on this watered-down cup of tea shows just how ill-advised the whole thing was. Didn't he know it would only fire up the Cavs' fans and make the Q an even tougher road environment? If Tim Couch and Jose Mesa couldn't combine to make everyone in Cleveland hate sports, it's not likely that Rasheed running his mouth is going to break the crowd's spirits. These were people who came to see a team that once started Wesley Person and Lamond Murray; they're not fair-weather fans who can be rattled.