Gerald Wallace needs a hand. (Getty Images)
As you probably already know, Gerald Wallace is not having a fun 2013-14 season.
The Boston Celtics forward was traded to the team from Brooklyn last July not because the Celtics wanted the banger’s services, but because they needed his massive contract to help with trading restrictions, as the C’s wanted to deal Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in exchange for a host of Nets draft picks at the time. As a result, the savvy veteran is stuck on a rebuilding team full of youngsters, and after a sound start to the season, the Celtics are stuck at 4-9 and likely to only watch that winning percentage drop as the season moves along.
Wallace still seems surprised by the team’s trend, though, pointing out to reporters on Tuesday night that he didn’t “know what the fu— (the loss) was, just to be honest with you” in response to a question about the squad’s blowout defeat against the Rockets. The loss seemed to catch teammate Rajon Rondo off guard as well, but Wallace’s reaction didn’t sway the NBA – and they fined him $25,000 for using profanity in an interview.
Soon after, according to Wallace, the league apologized. Kind of. From Steve Bulpett at the Boston Herald:
“They read to me what I said,” Wallace said, “and then just told me, ‘OK then, well, we understand you’re having a rough season. Hope your season gets better,’ and hung up the phone.”
According to the veteran, there was really no room for rebuttal.
“Nah, they ain’t hearing that,” said Wallace before the C’s 104-93 loss to the Spurs last night. “They called to confirm, make sure ‘Is this what you said? OK, cool.’ They didn’t call me back five minutes later, like, ‘Oh, my bad, I got the wrong number.’ ”
As for an explanation, Wallace said, “They said something about the league was, I don’t know, family friendly or friendly family or something. I said, ‘OK.’ ”
“Hope your season gets better.” Ouch.
The season didn’t seem all that bad a week and a half ago, as the Celtics actually peeled off a four-game winning streak after moving Wallace out of the starting lineup. Rookie coach Brad Stevens encouraged his team to run more in response to working up the league’s slowest possessions per game mark after the first few games; and while the running hasn’t stopped, the losing has returned.
Wallace is still getting minutes and playing solid enough defense, but years of acting as “Crash” have taken a toll on his contributions. He’s shooting 52 percent but has taken just 48 shots in 334 minutes, and his turnover percentage is astounding: Wallace is coughing it up on 36 percent of the possessions he uses up. Amongst players with enough minutes to qualify, usually 22 percent will “lead” the league.
Worse, as we’ve discussed over and over since June, Wallace’s contract makes him nearly impossible to move. Counting this season, he’s on the books for three years and over $30 million, a ridiculous number that only Brooklyn Nets general manager Billy King saw fit to give him in 2012 (after dealing the draft pick that ended up becoming Damian Lillard for Wallace a few months prior). Wallace’s contributions aren’t worth a quarter of that right now, much less in 2015-16, and his only way out is to accept a buyout that would involve him putting millions on the table to walk away.
On top of that, he’s now out 25-large. Which is stupid.
We understand the NBA’s “family friendly” hopes, as Wallace outlined, but this sort of fine is pointless. Gerald dropped an F-bomb in the locker room after being pantsed by the Houston Rockets by 24 points, in a game that actually didn’t feel as close as the 109-85 score indicated. He wasn’t at a podium, he wasn’t in a television interview that couldn’t be bleeped – he was likely talking to one or two reporters at most, on the road no less.
Also consider that media like me expect Wallace to feed our stories while they get dressed after emerging from the showers, after taking that shower following a dour post-game talk from their coach, after they lose by 24. I mean, [bleep], guys. It’s not the ideal environment to keep things clean at around midnight, Boston-time.
(Even though it was Houston-time when Wallace made his remarks. Before boarding a plan to have to play the white hot San Antonio Spurs 20 hours later. [Bleep].)
Everything is reported on and passed around these days to widening degrees, and anyone paying attention to Twitter would have known that Wallace dropped a big, bad f-word shortly after. By Wednesday, what was once an “[expletive deleted]” in the local paper is now a national item because online reports are passed around, and the NBA’s global family friendly following can click on any link they want in the modern age. I understand what the NBA is ideally after, and genuinely wouldn’t mind the fine if Wallace used rude language on TV or in a threatening manner to a reporter.
He didn’t, though. He just sighed and offered up an honest response that included a word we don’t want our kids saying. And we fine these guys for that?
I hope your season gets better, Gerald.
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