The Trail Blazers’ 50-year anniversary season is temporarily on pause as the NBA goes on hiatus to slow the spread of COVID-19. During that break, Blazer’s Edge is counting down the top 100 Blazers: players, executives, and other influencers who made the franchise what it is today.
No. 60 | Gerald Wallace
Games Played with Blazers: 65 Regular Season, 6 Postseason
*PTS: 14.2 | REB: 7.0 | STL: 1.7 | FG%: 48.2
*Statistics are pulled from a player’s time in Portland
Joined Club: February 2011, acquired from the Charlotte Bobcats for Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham, and Sean Marks
Departed Club: March 2012, traded to the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets for Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams, AND A FIRST-ROUND PICK
Place in History: Mid-season trades aren’t usually blockbusters. The Trail Blazers got pretty close in February of 2011, though, trading away three lower-rotation players (one young, one older, and one Sean Marks) for starting forward Gerald Wallace. “Crash” had earned his nickname the hard way as a star in Charlotte. Built like a brick brickhouse made of bricks with muscles lacquered on top, he charged down the floor with abandon. Woe be to anyone who got in the way of a layup, a rebound, or for all we know, his morning paper. Gerald Wallace was excitement in a bottle, backed up by one of the most “devil may care” approaches you’ve ever seen.
The trade pushed the Blazers into, “What the heck are we going to do with all this?” territory. They had LaMarcus Aldridge starting at power forward, Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews on the wings. Throwing in Wallace was like dropping Mentos into Diet Coke. He played 36 minutes per night, scoring 14 with 7 rebounds. He stole the ball with regularity, charged the rim with abandon, and made an otherwise buttoned-up team seem pretty exciting.
Despite all this, two sad subtexts scuttled Wallace’s time in Portland.
- Former first-round draft pick Greg Oden had already exited the stage. The franchise was coming to grips with that. Harder to take was the demise of All-World shooting guard Brandon Roy. He would play only 47 games for Portland in 2010-11, his last with the team. Instead of averaging 20 points per game, he barely managed 12. Wallace’s acquisition was, in part, an admission of the need for more firepower in the face of Roy’s demise. It wasn’t enough. It never could have been.
- Though he was still in his prime at 28 years of age, the miles on Wallace’s body had been hard. He played major minutes at risk of head-on collisions, increasingly affected by same. The Blazers didn’t get the Charlotte version of Wallace. He would spent only three years in the league after his time in Portland, none of them productive.
Wallace also suffered from being an odd fit on the roster. Andre Miller and LaMarcus Aldridge weren’t fast-break players. They took up Wallace’s preferred real estate in the halfcourt. Adding Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford the season after didn’t help.
Wallace gave everything he had, though. He was one of those players whom situation didn’t affect. Playoffs or pre-season, he was going to get it. His effort was guaranteed; his production usually followed.
The Blazers traded Wallace mid-season the year after they acquired him, a shrewd move in retrospect. The soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets were looking for name-value talent to bolster their reputation when they moved into The City. Wallace had the name, even if he didn’t have the same legs anymore. For the privilege of playing him, they gave Portland a couple of so-so players and a shiny first-round pick. That pick would come due in 2012. As it turned out, it was a lottery pick...the sixth overall pick...the pick that the Blazers would use to select their next franchise superstar, Damian Lillard.
For stepping into a tough situation, going hard at it, and producing stats that would be the envy of many players on this list (plus the little matter of that draft pick), Gerald Wallace earns the 60th spot on the Top 100 Trail Blazers players and influencers list.
If you don’t know, watch this dude.
Share your memories of “Crash” below, and stick with us as we continue the countdown to #1!