It is only fitting that the Bobcats' first delegate to the annual NBA All-Star game is the hardest working player in the franchise's short history.
Since coming to Charlotte in the supplemental draft before their expansion season, Gerald Wallace has been a cornerstone of the team.
He was often doubted by his coaches, teammates, critics, and even fans in his early days in Sacramento. He was thought of as a player destined to spend his NBA career coming off of the bench contributing as a sixth man but never cracking a starting rotation.
That may have been the chance were he not put in the position he was put in when he came to Charlotte. He was given the opportunity to be a young, budding player who could score lots of minutes, given the nature of the Bobcats' less-than-intimidating roster in those days.
He took full advantage of the opportunity and has transformed himself into a player who is known around the league as one of the hardest working guys around. Rare is the day when you don't see Wallace—or "Crash," as he has been lovingly dubbed in Charlotte—diving into the scorer's table or leaping into the third row for a loose ball.
For Wallace, it's team over body, which is a large reason why he is a perennial fan favorite in Charlotte.
In a day where defense and hustle during the regular season has become an afterthought for most teams and players in the NBA, Wallace prides himself on giving 100 percent all of the time. Never has that been more evident than this season, where Wallace's prowess on the boards has stood out perhaps more than any of his other statistics.
Wallace is averaging a double-double so far this season, scoring 19.3 points and grabbing 11 rebounds per game for the Bobcats, who will almost surely turn in their best season in franchise history in 2009-10. His 11.0 rebounds per game are good enough for the team lead and ranks seventh in the NBA.
Through 45 games, Wallace is just 58 total rebounds away from a career-high for a single season. He is also on pace to smash his previous bests of 1,304 points and 2,669 minutes played. In 32 of the 45 games he's played this season, Wallace has played 40 or more minutes, a testament to his all-out playing style.
Wallace won't just be playing in the All-Star Game in Dallas; he'll also be taking part in the Slam Dunk Contest the night before. It will be Wallace's second appearance in the competition after throwing down in 2002 as a rookie, finishing second to eventual teammate Jason Richardson.
Wallace's place on the team is a sign that the Bobcats may be edging onto the national radar, and could be making the transition from that team who wins the games they shouldn't and loses the games they should into a team that, at the very least, finds itself in the playoffs on a consistent basis. Wallace has been a staple in the Bobcats' rotation from day one, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
For Bobcats fans, that's great news.
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