Gerald Wallace

Basketball fans know him as “Crash,” the small forward willing to give up life and limb for a loose ball — the player the Brooklyn Nets will match up against LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant. But the Alabama product is so frightened of New York City that he refuses to drive over the Hudson River, let alone live close to the Barclays Center.

Trips into Brooklyn require a chaperone from his home in Fort Lee.

“I have a driver,” Wallace said. “If I’m going to the city, that’s pretty much how I’m getting in.”

Off the court, the Nets have been marketed as the gritty black & white urbanites, the vision of Bed-Stuy-born Jay-Z and Russia’s Mikhail Prokhorov. But there’s an unmistakable southern accent dominating conversations at the practice facility, whether it’s with Avery Johnson from Louisiana, Joe Johnson from Arkansas, Reggie Evans from Florida or Wallace from Childersburg, Ala.

The adjustment is probably most difficult for Wallace, a 30-year-old of few words with a voice so deep it has been mistaken for Barry White’s. While Joe Johnson says he’s “like a chameleon,” able to shift from Little Rock to his Manhattan home with ease, Wallace is more country than most.

“I’m afraid of New York City,” the 6-foot-7 forward said.

– Reported by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News