Few players in franchise history had as much versatility, athleticism and complete disregard for their physical wellbeing on a nightly basis than that of combo forward Gerald Wallace.
After spending his first three NBA seasons with the Sacramento Kings, the then Bobcats grabbed Wallace in the 2004 NBA Expansion Draft. He quickly took advantage of his new surroundings by posting averages of 11.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.3 blocks his first year in Charlotte.
The following season, Wallace became still one of just three players in NBA history to average at least 2.0 steals and 2.0 blocks for an entire season, joining Hall-of-Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson. He led the league in takeaways (2.5), while also averaging 15.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 2.1 blocks.
Come the 2009-10 season, Wallace would earn his first career All-Star Game nomination, participated in the Slam Dunk Contest and finished on the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team. He helped lead the Bobcats to their first playoff appearance since NBA basketball returned to the city in 2004.
Wallace earned the well-deserved nickname of “Crash” for his constant willingness to put his body on the line regardless of the circumstances. Concussions, a separated shoulder, a collapsed lung and a broken rib didn’t stop Wallace from averaging 16.4 points on 47.7 percent shooting, 7.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.2 blocks over 454 games in seven seasons with the Bobcats.
“When I think back to my experience with Gerald, I remember when I first joined the team midway through the [expansion season in 2003-04], my first practice, being on the court with Gerald. I had a wide-open layup and this dude took off from about the foul line and pinned it against the board,” said former teammate Matt Carroll in an interview with Hornets.com last year. “That’s when I knew this was a different level in the NBA. That was kind of a wake-up call.”
He added, “I was lucky. For me, coming in, that was my second year in the league and I just learned a lot from his example. I think the biggest thing was his work ethic and every night, [he] gave everything he had. Literally, Gerald left everything on the court. When he came off the court, he was totally exhausted. Something I learned was when you step on this floor, you better give everything you have because that’s what he’s doing.”
Wallace’s tenure in Charlotte came to an end on Feb. 24, 2011 when he was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Dante Cunningham, Sean Marks, Joel Przybilla, two first-round picks and cash considerations. Wallace continued his playing career with the Trail Blazers, Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics before retiring in 2015.
Today, Wallace currently lives in his home state of Alabama.