Photo credit: AP Photo/Steve Ruark
Gerald Wallace didn't lie during his first press conference as a member of the Boston Celtics.
He was shocked to be traded by the Brooklyn Nets. It hurt him, certainly. He expected to be starting the upcoming season wearing a black and white jersey. Instead, whilst enjoying a carefree summer with his family, Wallace got a phone call saying he would be wearing green come October.
There's no escaping those initial dark thoughts, and Wallace certainly didn't attempt to do that. He was more than aware when he heard that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were joining the Nets as part of the deal that he was joining a team in rebuild mode and leaving a team looking to reach the NBA Finals.
It's obvious that this would make Wallace gripe. But did it mean that he was unhappy about being a Celtic? No. Not at all.
"I think the main thing that a lot of people that have taken out of this is that I didn’t want to come, I didn’t want to be here, I didn’t want to be a part of it. That’s so far from the truth," Wallace said during media day before training camp started. "I'm actually happy to be here in Boston. I’ve always loved the city of Boston when I came here. Besides, I’m a Red Sox and Patriots fan, so I’m close to my teams. I’m happy to be here, and I want to be here.”
So far this preseason, Wallace has certainly stayed true to his words. Along with Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger, it's almost like the C's are forming a new group of three leading men. Gerald Wallace however is now firmly cementing himself as a team leader.
He's certainly not vocal commander material, but for now at least, his veteran wisdom is rubbing off on some of his teammates in a very positive way. Avery Bradley is certainly impressed with his new colleague.
He’s just a smart player,” Bradley said. “I love playing with him, I love my vets. They’re always taking me to the side, telling me what I can do better. They lead by example. Gerald’s a quiet guy, but he goes so hard, man. All you can do is respect him. It rubs off on me, and I want to go out there and play hard for him.”
Of course, Wallace's gentle teachings are certainly not the same as the hands-on tutoring given by Kevin Garnett, but it's a start. At least now head coach Brad Stevens has a role clearly defined while he chops and changes his system until it suits the NBA.
This is an uncertain time for every single player on the Celtics roster. With so many players at a similar caliber, Brad Stevens' shuffling could result in some players feeling like a cert for the starting lineup at this stage of preseason to being occasional backups when the opener comes. That somehow seems like something Gerald Wallace doesn't need to worry about.
Kris Humphries of course was with Wallace in Brooklyn last season. Now they're both in Boston, Humphries has stated that he feels Wallace has just clicked perfectly with the team. This surprisingly could be because of Brad Stevens. The young and quiet leader perhaps needs an older and wiser quiet leader on the floor.
It's certainly something that won't hurt the Celtics as they begin their long and difficult search for their new identity.