PORTLAND, Ore., Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Veteran power forward Rasheed Wallace Saturday night began serving his suspension for allegedly threatening a referee.
Wallace was hit with a seven-game suspension for confronting an official in the parking lot of the Rose Garden following Wednesday night's win over Memphis.
Wallace had a season-high 38 points and 10 rebounds, but was given a technical foul with 9:45 left in the third quarter by referee Tim Donaghy. The call came after Wallace whipped the ball back to another official after he was called for a foul.
"He accosted a referee and threatened him," said NBA Senior Vice President Stu Jackson in a conference call Saturday. "We believe the penalty was appropriate for Rasheed's actions."
Pending an appeal, Wallace stands to lose nearly $1.4 million of his $16.2 million annual salary.
The technical foul was the fifth of the season for Wallace, who led the league with 41 technical fouls and seven ejections during the 2000-01 campaign.
Guard Bonzi Wells, who scored a team-high 32 points in the 104-98 loss to Minnesota Saturday night, wore an armband to note team solidarity in Wallace's absence.
"Knowing Rasheed wasn't playing, everybody knew they had to step up," said Wells, who wrote "30" on his armband in tribute to Wallace. "It was a good sign that we can play with anybody without Rasheed here. It's another level we have to go to, another obstacle we have to overcome. We just have to fight through it and go on."
Coach Maurice Cheeks thinks Wallace is being singled out and was very upset about the suspension.
"Certainly, Rasheed getting into a verbal confrontation with an official after the game is not something we condone," Cheeks said. "But I certainly don't believe he's deserving of seven games. It's absolutely not fair. I think it's a result of Rasheed's reputation. I think it's a result of the Portland Trail Blazers' reputation, and it's just discouraging."
"Your team suffers, your fans suffer, the league suffers, everybody is suffering with this," said Portland guard Derek Anderson. "I think it's a shame, because they're blackballing us now and it's not right."