With 4:44 left in the opening quarter of Sunday night’s 90-83 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, newly acquired Gerald Wallace checked in for the first time as a Portland Trail Blazer. He was welcomed with a standing ovation from the Rose Garden crowd. A welcome that added to his already jittery nerves.
“It felt good, it’s a warming feeling. It’s something that every player would love to have,” said Wallace. “At the same time it kinda made me more nervous than it did emotionally. So I appreciate it. And I thank the fans for it.”
Coming into a new system following a trade isn’t easy. Big man Marcus Camby knows exactly what Wallace is going through. “I was in the same situation almost a year ago today,” said Camby. “I know it’s new territory for him, but he’s a professional. He got his feet wet tonight and he’ll only get better from here on out.”
In his Rose City debut Wallace played 29 minutes and racked up nine points and five rebounds. All this while battling a serious case of nerves.
“The first half I was nervous, the second half I kinda calmed down,” said Wallace following the contest. But don’t worry Rose Garden faithful, we haven’t seen anything from “Crash” yet. Said Wallace of his performance, “They didn’t see anything. They saw me more nervous than anything, but I hopefully it’s gonna pass and we’ll come back Tuesday night and it’ll be a different scenario.”
Teammates Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum are confident the impact Wallace will have on the team will be positive. We just have to push through the adjustment period.
“I think it’s gonna take a little bit for him to really feel like Gerald Wallace,” said Matthews. “He’s still trying to fit in with the team and the offense and the system and all that, we’re still trying to fit in the same way and we gotta find our rhythm again.”
When he gets to the point of playing like himself Portland is in for a world of excitement. “Energy, scoring, rebound, defense. He was an All-Star last year, also First All-Defensive team I think,” said Batum respectfully. “So he’s the best of all the small forward in the NBA. So he going to bring a lot of things for us. A lot of good things.”
Through the acclimation period Wallace is going to keep doing what he does best, putting it all out on the floor to win and never giving up.
In his words, “Keep playing hard, anything can happen in a game.”