Saturday, January 25, 2014

Past conversation with NBA star Gerald Wallace

I was very familiar with former NBA star forward Gerald Wallace for quite some time before I sat down with him for this interview in 2005. He was almost the Lebron James of Alabama during his high school days.

I was in college three years before him, but I had been hearing about him way before he enrolled at Alabama. Wallace ended up being “Mr. Basketball” in the state after scoring 59 points in a prep game and being named to the 1999-2000 McDonald’s All-American Team. It took Wallace only one year of collegiate basketball to realize that he needed to be in the NBA.

He was then drafted by Sacramento with the 25th overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, at the age of 19. He had a decent rookie year, which was highlighted by his second-place finish in the NBA Slam Dunk contest behind Jason Richardson.

Now, he’s doing bigger things in the NBA for the Boston Celtics. G-Wallace was a standout for the Charlotte Bobcats during this interview. He shocked me when he said he regretted signing with Alabama. Take a look at some of the other things he and I discussed during a fun interview a few years back.

Anthony: What’s good, G-Wallace?
Gerald: Nothin’ much. Nothin’ much.
Anthony: I know you’re dealing with your injury right now, but what has been going through your
mind as you prepare yourself to get back on the court?
Gerald: I’m just trying to get back as soon as possible. I want to get back. I don’t want to put myself in the risk of coming back too early and suffering a re-injury. I’m trying to get back as soon as possible, but I want to come back in the best condition.

Anthony: Now, you’re one of the key players in the NBA now. You’re the steals leader and all. What was your mindset like heading into this season, compared to seasons past?
Gerald: My only difference from this year and last year is I’m more comfortable now. I’m settled here in Charlotte. I just signed my deal this summer. So I’m comfortable here. I’m not worried about my contract being up at the end of the season. I mean, that takes a lot of pressure off you when you don’t have to worry about other things. Now I’m just focused on going out there and performing to the best of my ability.

Anthony: No doubt. And, congrats on getting that money.
Gerald: (Laughs) 'Preciate it, bruh. You know.
Anthony: (Smiles) I know you’re happy to be closer to Alabama. Tell me how happy you were to
finally get out of Sacramento, though.

Gerald: I’m very happy. They actually didn’t want me to get in the expansion draft. They tried to keep me protected, but I made a point to my agent that I wanted to get out. I didn’t want to be there anymore. Nothing against the organization or anybody there. I had been there three years already,
and I was promised more playing time every year. I felt like the best thing was to go somewhere else
Former Alabama star Rod Grizzard.
and try another team.
Anthony: All right. Of course, we’re both Alabama guys. I miss those days, man.
Gerald: Yeah.
Anthony: Hey, what happened to your boy Rod Grizzard (former UofA baller)?
Gerald: I don’t know, man.We were talking about that the other day. One of my homeboys said that he saw him in Birmingham. I don’t really know what that guy is doing. You really have to have your heart in basketball, and I don’t think he has it there anymore.
Anthony: Do you think he left too early?
Gerald: I don’t think he left early enough. I think he should’ve left after his freshman year, when he was doing so well. He was performing at a high enough level that he would’ve been a lottery pick.

Anthony: Now you left college after your freshman year. Do you wish that you would’ve gone straight to the league out of high school?
Gerald: Actually I do. I am not very happy with my decision to go to Alabama. That is something
that I really regret. That was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made in my life.
Anthony: What?
Gerald: It has nothing to do with the university. When the assistant coach that recruited me died of cancer, everything kind of went downhill from there. He died the day the we started classes. That was a bad situation for me to come in after that.

Anthony: Hey, our boy Shaun (Alexander) is in the Super Bowl. Do you think the Seahawks
are gonna win it (2005)?
Gerald: I don’t know. I like the Steeler defense. (Giggles.) But I’m not picking anyone. I’m just
going to watch the game.
Anthony: (Laughs.) A’ight. Who was the best player you’ve ever faced?
Gerald: I actually played against Michael Jordan. So he has to be the best I’ve ever faced.
Anthony: OK. Give me your top three players of all time.
Gerald: I’ll take MJ (Michael Jordan), Magic (Johnson) and Larry Bird.
Anthony: Oh yeah?
Gerald: Yeah, but I also like Isiah Thomas.

Anthony: I’m surprised you didn’t say Scottie Pippen, as much as people compare you to him.
Gerald:Yeah. I might put him in my starting five. I’d put Isiah at the point. I’d put MJ at the shooting
guard. I’d put Larry Bird at the four. I’d put Shaq in his prime, at five. Then I guess I’d put Scottie at the three because he guards all positions.
Anthony: OK. What is Gerald Wallace doing when he’s not playing ball?
Gerald: Man, I’m either asleep or playing video games.I’m going through the Madden season right now. I run with New England.

Anthony: Cool. Let’s conclude with free association.Um, Chris Paul (NBA star point guard).
Gerald: Good, good. Better than I thought he was.
Anthony: Charlotte Bobcats.
Gerald: Building. We’re young, but we’re building.
Anthony: 81 points.
Gerald: Wow.

Anthony: Gerald Wallace.
Gerald: Arising star.
Anthony: Childersburg, Alabama.
Gerald: Home sweet home.
Anthony: We’re done, dawg. I’ll hit you up later.
Gerald: All right.

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