Portland Trail Blazers forward Gerald Wallace had his high school jersey retired during a ceremony on Tuesday night in Childersburg, Alabama. Wallace wore No. 45 for the Childersburg High Tigers.
Dennis Lin of AL.com writes...
The Tigers retired that No. 45 at halftime of their game. School officials unveiled Wallace's signed uniform, enclosed in a glass frame, on a wall of the gym as the crowd cheered for its most famous alum.
"I want to thank the community, the whole city of Childersburg, for always standing behind me," Wallace, a 2000 graduate of Childersburg, said into a microphone. "I just want you to know that every time I step out on the court, it's for the Childersburg Tigers."
Wallace's jersey is the first to be retired at Childersburg. As a senior in 2000, he was named the Naismith Prep Player of the Year, an award given to the best high school basketball player in the country. He collected numerous other honors that year, including Alabama's "Mr. Basketball," Alabama's Gatorade Player of the Year and a selection to the state all-star team.
Wesley Sinor of DailyHome.com writes...
"I was raised by a single parent so going back and helping out this community giving kids an opportunity to do the things I wasn't able to do," Wallace said. "I want to show them that determination and hard work, no matter how small of a town you come from, always pays off in the end."
Wallace donned the Childersburg varsity uniform from 1996-2000. He said he picked No. 45 because it was "the biggest jersey number they had."
Now that the lengthy NBA lockout appears to be coming to an end, Wallace said he's happy to get back on the court.
"You always beg for a vacation but ours was a little too long," he said. "This past season was one of the best seasons (the NBA) has ever had and we didn't want to lose the fanbase. I thought it was important for us to try to get a deal done."
At last year's MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, NFL player Justin Tuck offered some insight into Wallace as a high schooler.
"I've been around a lot of athletes in basketball, football and basketball," Tuck, who hails from Alabama, said. "In high school, I remember going to school with a guy named Jamario Moon. Our biggest rival was a guy named Gerald Wallace. Freshman year, Jamario was kind of the guy. Gerald was an up-and-comer. Gerald was the guy who was always improving, always working on his craft. Jamario was the kind of guy who could jump with a 45 inch vertical, he could shoot threes, he could do everything he wanted to do on the basketball court."
Over a 10 year NBA career, Wallace has averaged 13.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 597 games. Moon, who most recently played for the Los Angeles Clippers and has spent time in the D-League, has career averages of 6.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 263 games.
Tuck said that Moon's athletic gifts at an early age may have undermined his understanding of the importance of hard work and dedicated skill development. "It kind of swayed him not to practice as much I guess. His natural ability led him not to develop as much. Now, Gerald is an All-Star player. Jamario is in the league but not as good as he could have been if he had taken it serious. I tend to agree that sometimes [being] early natural athletes does get in the way of development."
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter