The Gerald Wallace Sacramento Kings story starts with the 2001 NBA Draft. With the 21st selection, the Sacramento Kings chose the high flying, 6’7″ 220lb forward from the University of Alabama. Wallace spent three seasons in SacTown – where he had the best courtside view of anyone in the world of the Sacramento Kings team dubbed ‘The Greatest Show on Court’. Read ahead for an in-depth dive into the brief, but electrifying, tenure of Gerald Wallace on the Sacramento Kings.
Gerald Wallace Sacramento Kings Stats
Gerald Wallace was present for every moment during the greatest era of Sacramento Kings history – 2001-2004.
Wallace did not see much playing time in his three seasons with the Kings – averaging just 9.7 minutes per game. Wallace’s career stats with the Kings, per game are – 3.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, and just under .5 steals. Not too shabby for such low minutes, on such a STACKED team.
Wallace’s ‘most productive’ season with the Kings was in 2002-03. During his second season in the NBA, Wallace put up season per-game averages of – 12.1 minutes, 4.7 points, 50% FG, 0.5 steals, and 2.7 rebounds. That was while appearing in 47 regular-season games, 7 of which he was a starter.
During that 2001-04 time span, the Sacramento Kings were one of the best teams in the NBA – advancing past the first round of the playoffs each season, winning 61 games and an NBA Pacific Division crown in 2001-02.
And of course, an infamous 7 game series in the 2002 NBA Western Conference Finals against Kobe, Shaq, and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The High-Flying Mr. Wallace
Gerald Wallace was best known in Sacramento for his explosiveness and extraordinary athleticism. Kings head coach Rick Adelman would usually play Wallace at the end of games, mainly during ‘garbage’ minutes when the Kings had already amassed an insurmountable lead.
That is when Wallace shined most. He would make the most of his limited opportunities – slamming home alley-oops, streaking the floor, and giving Kings fans yet ANOTHER reason to be excited during the early 2000s.
Growing up, catching Gerald Wallace Sacramento Kings highlights was not easy. No YouTube, on-demand, and TiVo probably wasn’t even a thing yet. As a 12 year old middle school hooper, laying eyes on a Wallace dunk on the early morning SportsCenter before catching the school bus was as good as finding gold in the American River back in 1849.
Gerald Wallace had many ‘highlight’ plays during his limited playing time with the Sacramento Kings. One of those was a Vince Carter-esque POSTERIZATION during a pre-season game against the Houston Rockets.
Bostjan Nachbar may not be a household name (unless maybe you were an avid sports card collector in the early 2000s) but die-hard Kings fans will remember this epic slam-dunk.
Both Houston and Sacramento would end up making the playoffs that season. Though, both teams were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. One team had just acquired Tracy McGrady and the other well … we got Quincy Douby?
NBA Dunk Contest
The young King and his high-flying skills did not go unnoticed around the NBA. Wallace competed in and earned second place at the 2002 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, hosted on NBA All-Star weekend. ‘Crash’ Wallace would finish second overall to another early 2000s high-flyer, Golden State Warriors swingman Jason Richardson.
Humble Beginnings to NBA All-Star
The Gerald Wallace Sacramento Kings story ends at the 2004 NBA Expansion Draft. Wallace was one of the players selected to join the newly formed NBA expansion franchise – Charlotte Bobcats. The Bobcats were founded when the Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans around that time.
Wallace’s production increased as he was given more opportunities to play with the Bobcats. In each of his six seasons with Charlotte, Wallace averaged over 10 PPG each season – and over 15 PPG in five out of six seasons.
Wallace averaged a career-high 19.8 PPG during the 2007-08 season. The best stretch of Wallace’s 15-year career was during his tenure with the Charlotte Bobcats spanning the 2004-05 season to the 2010-11, before he was traded midseason to Portland.
During this time span with Charlotte Wallace’s averages per game were impressive – 36.8 minutes, 16.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 1.8 steals, while shooting over 50% from the field. That was quite an upsurge from his production during his first three seasons in SacTown.
In 2010 Wallace was selected to the USA National Basketball team. Wallace played alongside the likes of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Team USA head coach and Duke University men’s head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski was excited to have the athletic Wallace in camp.
Coach K had high praise for the high-flying Wallace,
“… Krzyzewski called Wallace , “one of the best athletes in the NBA. I think he can help us on both ends of the court and has been playing lights-out basketball for Larry Brown’s (Charlotte) team.”From the article – ‘Gerald Wallace named to USA national team‘
‘DEFENSE’ … *CLAP CLAP*
Wallace earned his nickname ‘Crash’ due to his insane athleticism and knack to always ‘go hard’. For a period of time, Wallace was one of the best defenders in the NBA. Wallace had one of his best defensive seasons during the 2005-06 campaign with the Bobcats. That season Wallace averaged 2.5 steals and 2.1 blocks per game. Wallace was crowned the NBA ‘Steal Champion’ for the season!
In 2009-10 Wallace earned 1st Team All NBA-Defensive team and NBA All-Star honors.
Wallace played with five teams during his 15-year career – Sacramento Kings, Charlotte Bobcats, New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets, and Boston Celtics.
FUN FACT: Wallace is the ONLY player from the Charlotte Bobcats EVER selected to an NBA All-Star team.
What if Wallace Didn’t Leave Sactown?
Could Gerald Wallace have helped the ‘re-tooling’ Sacramento Kings? What if the Bobcats hadn’t become an expansion franchise that season? Would the Gerald Wallace Sacramento Kings story have turned out differently?
Chris Webber was not the same NBA Hall of Fame type player after suffering a devastating knee injury in the 2003 playoffs. And as C-Webb went down, so did the Sacramento Kings franchise.
When Gerald Wallace left Sacramento in 2004, the Kings were still one of the top teams in the NBA western conference, but fading fast. Even though the 2004-05 Kings won 50 games, Sacramento lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Seattle SuperSonics.
The Sacramento Kings early 2000s glory days would ‘end’ in 2006. Sacramento lost again in the first round of the playoffs, this time to the San Antonio Spurs. That 2006 playoff series loss was the last time the Sacramento Kings franchise advanced to the NBA playoffs.
That is currently the LONGEST playoff drought in the ‘big three’ North American sports.
When given more playing time later in his career, Wallace was able to achieve a lot, compared to his production with the Kings. The Kings roster from 2005-09 was … interesting and searching for an identity.
The Kings could have benefitted from having Gerald Wallace on the team past 2004.
Post-Gerald Wallace Sacramento Kings Era Small Forwards
The Kings ‘wings’ or small forwards of the post-Gerald Wallace era did not replicate what Wallace achieved when he left Sacramento.
Sacramento went through a myriad of small forwards after Wallace departed Sactown. A few of those notable players are … Sacramento native Matt Barnes, an aging Peja Stojakovic, Francisco Garcia, Ron Artest (Metta World Peace but my friends still call me Ron), Corliss Williamson, Donte Greene, John Salmons (multiple times), Omri Casspi. And that was all before the Sacramento Kings ‘2010’s Decade of Despair’ even began…
Gerald Wallace would have been a WELCOME addition to the Sacramento Kings as they were attempting to re-tool after the ‘Greatest Show On Court’ era. His best years were right after he left the Kings in 2004-05.
Gerald Wallace is one of the lesser talked about Kings players of the ‘glory days’. That is just a testament to how good the Kings were at the time, and how great Geoff Petrie was as Sacramento Kings general manager.
Regardless of what could have been if the Gerald Wallace Sacramento Kings story went on longer, he will always be one of my favorite Sacramento Kings players of all time!
– Tom Witt
Let me know what Sacramento Kings throwback player profile YOU want to hear about next!
Follow, comment, share, with Sactown Crown Report and Tom Witt on Twitter – @sactowncrown