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Gerald Wallace: “Either you want to win or you don’t.”

Crash

Credit: Flickr/tatscruinc

 

This is probably no the way Gerald Wallace foresaw his career wrapping up. Just two seasons ago he was traded from a rebuilding Blazers team a Nets team primed to be a top team in the Eastern Conference. Coming in, Wallace was 29 and still playing at a high level, and earned a four-year/$40 million dollar contract extension that raised a few eyebrows. It seemed like a long time to invest in a player of Wallace’s age but would probably not kill them as long as he could continue like he had been. But that is not how his first season in Brooklyn would go as he dealt with injuries and a consequential hit in production. Many people feared that at some point in this contract it would become more about the cost than benefit, but few would have expected it to happen so soon.

Fast forward to draft night 2013 when Wallace was shipped to Boston in the blockbuster that saw Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce move to Boston. Now, Wallace was about to turn 31 with three years and $30 million left on his extension on a team that is in the early stages of rebuilding– far from ideal for a player at his point in his career. Now he was considering the veteran presence instead of a core piece. Wallace had been a part of losing teams before in Sacramento and Charlotte before, but was supposed to be done with that when he was traded to the Nets.

Still, Wallace is a professional and has made the most of it. He’s accepted that, at this point in his career that he is beyond caring about starting, as he told The Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett. Wallace knows that if he’s here, he’s going to have to make the most of this and is willing to guide the Celtics’ young players. It turns out one thing Wallace does not like is the lack of effort in the Celtics’ preseason loss to the Timberwolves on Sunday night.

 

 

 

After 12 years in the NBA, Wallace has a pretty good idea of what helps and doesn’t help you win. For incoming rookies that have come through the college ranks as the top of their class with very little resistance in the way of true competition, Wallace’s words should serve as a wake up call. This is the NBA: the best of the best. The athletes are better, the coaches are smarter, and the overall talent is greater. Sure, you don’t make it on an NBA roster without being talented, but Wallace knows that’s not enough going against superior competition. You can’t play down to teams, coast, or take anything for granted– you have to start strong. After all, playing catch up in the NBA is not a sustainable model for success and you have to put forth the effort to maximize those talents.

Having a veteran voice reaffirming these things being taught by the coaching staff gives them more credibility, too. No longer is it just some guy in a suit barking at you (Does Brad Stevens bark? I don’t know…), but someone else in a jersey who has played in the league and been successful. It’s one thing to not be talented enough to win since you can’t really control how talented your team is, but you can control the amount of effort that you put forth. You know that even though he may not care if he starts or not, Gerald Wallace is going to give 100 percent whenever he is on the court.

A lot of the problems young teams have is learning how to win and do the little things that lead to winning consistently, and a huge part of that is the effort. Every player will tell you that they want to win, but most nights they are going to have to work for it unlike they ever have before. It’s not easy, and Wallace knows this, so if he is going to be here he is going to try to push his teammates on to his level. Or maybe the idea is that if they play harder, they’ll win more, and therefore make Wallace happier. Either way.

 

Derek James

In addition to writing for Hardwood Paroxysm, Derek James covers the Minnesota Timberwolves for Howlin’ T-Wolf and the Charlotte Bobcats for SB Nation’s Rufus on Fire. He often finds himself writing too many words on irrelevant players. Andray Blatche and Isaiah Rider follow him on Twitter. Unrelated to LeBron James, but taught him everything he knows.