The 13 rebounds. The tenacious defense on Luol Deng. The clinching tip-in.
“He’s just so important,” Deron Williams said. “What he does can’t be seen on stats. His hustle, his energy, his intensity, just doing the little things nobody else wants to do. And those are the intangibles that he brings to the team.”
No matter what he accomplishes or doesn’t accomplish in Brooklyn, Wallace will always be compared with Damian Lillard, the stud point guard the Portland Trail Blazers selected after acquiring the Nets’ first-round draft pick in exchange for the versatile 30-year-old forward last March.
Brooklyn GM Billy King felt it was the type of bold trade he had to make in order to keep Williams around. It worked. Still, it remains to be seen whether the move ends up working out in the Nets’ favor in the long run, paying the dividends needed to be considered a win in the trade column.
But as Williams said, Wallace’s game can’t be measured in statistics alone. He earned the nickname Crash because, well, he seems to crash into everything: players, fans, scorer’s tables. You name it, he’s probably crashed into it.
That’s what Wallace's coaches have long loved about him. He’d probably run through a wall to get a victory.
“I just play basketball. I love to play basketball,” Wallace said. “I go out and play and do whatever my coaches and my teammates need me to do to help us win. They know I’ll do it at 110 percent and give it my all. That’s just the enjoyment of the game that I’ve loved since I was 2, 3 years old.”
Wallace signed a four-year, $40 million to remain with the Nets in the offseason. He may be wary of New York City traffic -- he has a driver, after all -- but he isn’t afraid to dive for loose balls or call out his teammates in the press. In this town, there’s certainly something to be said for that.
Take Wednesday night. The Nets were whooped by the Miami Heat by 20 at home. Wallace said -- for the third time since the team was romped in Milwaukee on Dec. 29 -- that Brooklyn got its behind kicked.
“I’m not a big talker. I can emotionally shout and say things to help guys out,” Wallace said. “But I’m more of a lead-by-example kind of guy. You know guys see me giving 110 percent effort, and you don’t have to shout or say much. You point something out, and guys kind of listen because they know you’re giving the effort and giving 110 percent. It’s not like I have to walk around shouting or being all emotional kinda guy.”
Nope, he’s just their guy -- the kind of guy who elevates near the rim and tips in a rebound to give the Nets a 91-86 lead over the Bulls with 31 seconds left.
“I don’t know. I don’t know if me or Dray got it, but I’ll take it,” Wallace joked.
But he wasn’t in a totally joking mood. Beating the undermanned Chicago Bulls by four wasn’t good enough for Wallace.
“I wasn’t happy,” he said. “We could have made this game a lot easier for us tonight. At the end of the day, a win is a win and we’ll take it. But there’s definitely things we’ve got to get better.”
Doesn’t take long to realize why everyone likes Gerald Wallace, does it?