Gerald Wallace: “I Only Know How to Play One Way”

Josh Newman, SNYNets.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – There may not be another player in the NBA whose moniker fits his style of play better than Gerald Wallace. Affectionately known as ‘Crash,’ the 12th year combo forward plays full throttle on both ends of the floor, often with reckless abandon.

That style of play is conducive to a variety of injuries. In his 10 full NBA seasons (last season was shortened by the lockout), Wallace has never played in all 82 games and has cracked the 70-game mark only four times.

Still, as Wallace continues to inch his way back to full health following his latest injury, bruised ribs suffered on Jan. 11 against the Phoenix Suns, no one would dare ask him to change his approach to the game. He sat two games with the injury before playing 15 minutes off the bench on Wednesday in a 109-95 loss at the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday evening

Gerald Wallace

Gerald Wallace

“I still have some soreness, a little tenderness, but it’s not really a big issue,” Wallace said at shootaround at PNY Center on Friday as the Nets prepared to host the Hawks at Barclays Center. “I only know how to play one way. I want to be out there, the guys know how much I want to be out there. My main thing is just trying to stay healthy for the rest of the season. I’ve had some bumps and bruises, and I’m just trying to get myself where I can be 100 percent.”

Wallace will play on Friday, but how much is still undetermined. Interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo said before shootaround that his minutes will increase from Wednesday. Whether or not Wallace will get the start will depend on how he comes out of shootaround.

In a starting role or not, when he is in the game, Wallace will likely draw the defensive assignment on star combo forward Josh Smith, who sat out Wednesday’s meeting while serving a one-game suspension thanks to conduct detrimental to the team.

Wallace is typically charged with guarding the opponent’s top offensive weapon and Smith is just that for the Hawks. He is averaging a team-best 16.5 points to go along with 8.3 rebounds in 34.8 minutes per game.

“Any play that involves effort, energy, intensity, again, that’s his forte,” Carlesimo said of Wallace. “You need guys like that on your team. We’ve missed that. Any time Gerald, not just when he’s injured, any time he’s not on the floor, it’s different for us. Gerald is exactly what you want because he sets the tone when he’s on the floor.”

Aside from the bruised ribs, Wallace missed six games early in the season with a sprained left ankle and sat out a New Year’s Eve loss at the San Antonio Spurs with a bruised left knee.

Averaging a solid 13.3 points and 6.3 rebounds over 702 career games, Wallace’s career has been littered with injuries, both minor and major. Along the way, the Alabama native has suffered multiple concussions, a separated shoulder and a collapsed lung.

One concussion, a severe Grade 3 suffered in February of 2008, was his fourth in as many seasons with the Bobcats.

Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA