One Bobcats Jersey Should Be Retired

In the book of Charlotte basketball the page will be turned to the next chapter very soon as the Charlotte Bobcats will become the Charlotte Hornets next season. The Charlotte community has put a lot of emphasis on history and culture of the Hornets. They want the culture, history and tradition of the Charlotte Hornets back. Now while I agree whole-heartedly that those are important things I also believe that the good history of the Charlotte Bobcats should not be forgotten. Good Charlotte Bobcats history? It’s a crazy concept right? Well it’s not when you mention the name Gerald Wallace and I think the organization at some point should do him right and retire his #3 to the rafters at Time Warner Cable arena.

Although he won’t be a Charlotte Hornet, Gerald Wallace is still a legend of Charlotte Basketball. "I felt like I owed Charlotte something because they gave me my 1st chance to really play basketball". This is what Wallace said after the Bobcats resigned him in 2008.  Whenever he was in a Bobcats uniform he played his heart out for this city. The idea of anybody in a Bobcats jersey getting their number retired may sound beyond crazy to some, but hear me out.

When we talk about guys getting their number retired by a franchise they have to be one of the greats of that franchise. Well, Gerald Wallace is clearly the best Bobcat of All-Time, and gave his heart to this franchise time and time again throughout the course of his 7 years in a Bobcats uniform. Fractured ribs, collapsed lungs and numerous concussions are a bi-product of effort he gave to the Charlotte Bobcats night in and night out.

This isn't the YMCA though; you need to produce, and Gerald did a lot of that in his time in the Queen City.  Consider this: since 1973 when the NBA started counting blocks only 3 players have averaged 2 blocks and 2 steals per game and those players are Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson and Gerald Wallace. In the 2005-2006 season, Gerald Wallace averaged 15.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 2.1 blocks, 2.5 steals on 53.8% shooting from the field. Now that would be “jersey-retiring” production right there, and he was, very quietly, among the best at his position in his time in Charlotte.

Here is another interesting stat about Gerald Wallace while in a Bobcats uniform: in the 7 years he played in Charlotte Gerald Wallace led all NBA small forwards in rebounds (7.8 in 2009 & 10 in 2010), double-doubles (33 in 2010), field goal percentage (53.8% in 2006), and steals (2.5 in 2006). So Wallace was the most efficient, defensively disruptive, and best rebounder among all NBA small forwards at that point in his career. Further research will show that the years Wallace didn't lead in any categories, he still was among the best at his position. He has also finished in the top 10 in points, rebounds, blocks, steals, field goal percentage, and double-doubles for nearly his entire career in Charlotte.

Wallace, among NBA small forwards during his time in Charlotte, had 5 top 10 finishes in rebounds.  He led small forwards, averaging 10 rebounds in 2010, and his lowest finish was 9th in rebounds in 2008, averaging 6. He was never an elite scorer, but still managed to place himself among the top 10 in scoring for small forwards.  His highest being ranked 8th averaging 18.1 PPG, and his low was being ranked 10th averaging 18.2 PPG. He finished top 10 in field goal percentage among NBA small forwards four times in Charlotte, ranking as high as 1st with 53.8%, and as low as 6th at 48%. He never led small forwards in blocks but was always high finishing as high as 2nd in 2010 averaging 1.09 per game.

As you can see, Gerald Wallace was very productive and just an all-around consistent player for the Bobcats. Much of the basketball world missed out on the exciting prime of his career due to the Bobcats never being that good, and only reaching the playoffs once in Wallace's tenure.  Unfortunately, the Orlando Magic in that one appearance swept them.  That still doesn't demean the consistent production Wallace displayed year in and year out in the Queen City. I firmly believe that if the Bobcats ever had consistent big man and just 2-3 solid bench players that they would have been better, and Wallace would have had even better numbers along with about 1 or 2 more all-star appearances.

He could have gone to other teams for more money, he could have sat out so many games and he sure as heck could have blamed his teammates for their lack of production, but he never did. He just went out and played his heart out for this city every night.  Sadly, his sole production never contributed enough to produce enough team success for everyone to take notice.  He is still the best player to ever wear a Charlotte Bobcats uniform and we should not forget him. Do the right thing and honor the #3 in the rafters at Time Warner Cable Arena, we can never forget Gerald Wallace.

Speaking from a fans perspective there were many nights as a fan of this team I didn't want to bother watching Walter Hermann get destroyed, Raymond Felton turn the ball over or watch forgettable players like Eduardo Najera, Jason Hart, Malik Allen and Jamal Sampson do absolutely nothing. Do you know who kept me watching when I had no reason to? You guessed right Gerald Wallace and I know I'm not the only Cats fan that feels this way. As far as I’m concerned Gerald Wallace is the Charlotte Bobcats and that cannot be forgotten.

About Andrew Lail

Lifelong Hornets/Bobcats/Hornets fan. "Charlotte Hornets basketball is my one true pro sports passion."