John Wallace bashed Knicks vets before his first practice

John Wallace had a tremendous collegiate career at Syracuse, earning awards as one of the Big East's top players and leading his school to the national title game. That success had him riding high when he was drafted by the Knicks in the first round of the NBA Draft back in 1996. He was actually feeling so good, he trash-talked Knicks veterans going into his very first pro practice.

"That's just the way I came in. We had these 5-on-5 runs [during the summer] and I was [dominating]," Wallace recently told the "New York Accent" podcast. "What you realize is, you're playing pick-up ball -- that's one thing. But when you're doing practice [that's different]. When you're at practice, you're doing drills, you want to destroy this drill.

"When we did 3-on-2, or 2-on-1 situations, veterans taught me a lesson every time that I came to the sideline. Get a break? They didn't let me, so that's why I threw up. I didn't get a break because I was talking noise. So they taught me a lesson that very first practice. 'Shut your mouth and work hard.'"

The 1990s Knicks squads were led by tough guys, like Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, and John Starks. They'd been to the NBA Finals just two years earlier, in 1994, and maintained a hardscrabble, championship mentality. For a rookie to come in and start barking before his first training camp? It wasn't received well. Knicks veterans ran Wallace into the floor his very first day and he came home exhausted. But he knew he had to prove his mettle the following day.

"For my second practice, I responded," Wallace said. "I came back stronger than ever. And that earned me playing time that year and respect from my teammates because they were interested to see how I was gonna respond. The night of my first practice I went home, I didn't shower or brush my teeth.

"I was that tired. So they were like, 'What's going to happen the next day? Are you going to come out and be weak? Are you gonna hack? The next day I just played as hard as I've ever played and played really good. That's how I earned respect of my teammates and my coaches."

Wallace was eventually embraced by the Knicks veterans. He played hard and understood how to do the dirty work. And now, he laughs. "All the noise that I was talking? It was looked at as just noise. I'm just bloviating about nothing," Wallace admitted.

Wallace took part in a Knicks playoff run that season, but unfortunately, they were bounced by the rival Heat after suspensions ruined the series. Wallace believes New York had a chance to take down the Bulls in the second round because they played them well in the regular season, splitting four games.

The following summer, Wallace was traded to the Raptors, but earned enough respect where he rejoined the Knicks via free agency in 1999. Well, talk about confidence. How does a rookie walk into a championship-caliber locker room and start chirping before he's ever stepped foot onto the floor? That attitude was developed through fires of the old Big East -- every night was a turf war. "No doubt," Wallace said wistfully about his Big East days. "No doubt."

You can listen to and watch the entire conversation between DA and Wallace on "New York Accent" everywhere you get your podcasts, and on YouTube.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Tom Hauck / Staff / Getty Images