Despite the bad-boy rep, Knicks brass knew what kind of good teammate they would be getting in Rasheed Wallace.

When Wallace was with Mike Woodson in Detroit, according to a source, Wallace's dedication was so strong, once time he wouldn't take off his right sneaker and sock for four days for fear his twisted ankle would swell up.

The Knicks players are ready to sing Wallace's praises too, and chant his name like Garden fans.

The Knicks' new cult hero showed he still has game Monday night in his hometown of Philadelphia, and he's not just a 6-foot-11 bearded curiosity. There was "Sheeeeed," banging in two 3-pointers, including a third-quarter buzzer beater. Wallace sank a sweet left-baseline post-up in the third quarter and moved well laterally on defense and used his length. He got booed and cheered at the same time by his fellow Philadelphians as he helped the Knicks move to a perfect 3-0.

"I took off two years from the NBA," Wallace said. "I didn't take two years off, period."

Even before the injury-wracked Amar'e Stoudemire returns in mid-December, Woodson will face his first rotation conundrum Friday when the unbeaten Knicks host the Mavericks. Backup center Marcus Camby is expected back just as Wallace's role looks ready to increase. Where that leaves minutes for Camby is unclear.