Say what you want about one of the latest additions to the Boston Celtics, power forward Gerald Wallace, and he probably won’t care. A long time veteran of the NBA, Wallace has seen some serious stuff. He has one of the most dysfunctional and non-glamorous journeys through the basketball world. When the most glamorous place a player has played is Brooklyn, it says a lot. After stints in places like New Jersey, Portland and Charlotte, Wallace finally seemed to be on a legitimate playoff team when the Nets moved to Brooklyn.
That is, until he was traded to the bottom-of-the-heap Celtics.
While Wallace’s incredibly bad luck has led to 0 championships, parades, or signature shoe deals, it has led to some experience. When Wallace talks, a young team like the Celtics would be smart to listen up.
I understand that Wallace has said some controversial things thus far. His all out rejection of tanking and calling his teammates on playing selfishly won’t be as endearing as Paul Pierce’s speeches on loyalty, or Kevin Garnett’s hollers of passion and rage. Regardless, he is speaking the truth. When a player calls out his own team for “padding their stats,” it means one of two things. That player is either trying to displease his team enough to get traded or actually has a desire for his teammates to stop padding stats so they can get some wins in the books. It’s safe to say Wallace gets the benefit of the doubt here. When asked who he believed the alleged stat-padders were, Wallace wouldn’t get specific. He wasn’t calling out players, he was calling out team effort.
GM Danny Ainge has come out and denied rumors of tanking pretty much on the grounds of “because we’re the Celtics”. If stat padding and minimal effort don’t smell like tanking, I don’t know what does. Either Ainge is lying through his teeth and will be having a word with Wallace, or Wallace is on board with Ainge’s sense of pride and one of the few players openly embracing the Celtic way.
Did I really just type that?
Strange as it may seem, one of the players hardly any fans were happy about receiving in the infamous “Brooklyn Nets trade” is trying hard for the Celtics, ridiculous contract and all. Even though his comments are borderline discouraging, the team allegedly took it to heart and followed up with an excellent practice the next day. Brandon Bass has since backed up Wallace, but in a much more relaxed Brandon Bass sort of way. Bass said that players need to “get the message” and “stick together”.
It may seem like Wallace is dropping a few controversial sound-bytes to see if he can get himself out of town and into a contender, but it really does seem like he is administering some kind of veteran tough love in hopes of improving the Celtics. It’s hard not to trust a guy who says he doesn’t care if the Celtics win any games, as long as they go down swinging.