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Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Big Ben not sorry he broke Bulls' headband rule

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Ben Wallace knew he wasn't supposed to wear a headband, and he's not sorry.

"If you know the rules and break them, you expect to be punished. I can't try to put myself above the team or anybody else and wear a headband like I did. I'm man enough to take the punishment. But I'm not sorry."
-- Ben Wallace

But the Chicago Bulls and their biggest free-agent signing in years might have bigger problems than his choice of accessories: He told the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday that he has ligament damage and chipped bones in his right hand. That's a more serious diagnosis than the sprained index finger and wrist contusion the team disclosed following an MRI on Monday.

Wallace played in the Bulls' 102-85 win over the New York Knicks on Tuesday night -- and played without a headband.

The reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year has struggled to fit in with his new team after leaving the Detroit Pistons for a four-year, $60 million contract. The 32-year-old center is averaging 5.5 points and 9.2 rebounds a game and the team's defense looks worse than last season.

Media reports in Chicago have indicated Wallace is unhappy with his new team. He has reportedly butted heads with the team on other issues, like playing music in the locker room, and has had problems with other coaches in the past.

The team also has a rule against wearing headbands -- despite the fact it is using a photo of Wallace wearing one to promote the team -- and Wallace was benched Saturday during a 106-95 victory over the Knicks for wearing one.

Marc Stein's take
When the Bulls inked Big Ben to a $60 million contract to become the team's main attraction, praises were made and deep post-season predictions were handed down. But the Wallace era in Chicago is already getting off to a rocky start with the starting center and coach Scott Skiles butting heads. Whose side should you take? Marc Stein has his answer here.

More:
• PTI discusses issue
• Chris Sheridan's take Insider
• What's Skiles' deal?

"If you know the rules and break them, you expect to be punished. I can't try to put myself above the team or anybody else and wear a headband like I did," he told the Tribune. "I'm man enough to take the punishment. But I'm not sorry."

So why did he do it?

"I just felt like wearing it," he told the Tribune.

Coach Scott Skiles and GM John Paxson said they had a telephone conversation with Wallace on Sunday and don't believe the headband was a rebellion against the coach.

Wallace told the Tribune he'd like to see the Bulls change the rule.

"I would hope they'd look at it and see we have a great group of guys here and that shouldn't affect the way we play," he told the newspaper. "I would hope they'd look at it and see there's no harm done in wearing a headband. Then again, it's their rule. They make the calls."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.