I can't believe he's already back in the rotation. I cracked a rib back in high school and it was months before i could lift my arms up without almost passing out in pain. All hail Crash, this season's MVP.
Charlotte Bobcats Gerald Wallace (3) grabs for his left knee after falling to the court during first half action against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday, March 18, 2009, at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/MCT)
A day after bruising and twisting his left knee, Charlotte Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace estimated he'll stop aching by “mid-June.''
That also would have been Wallace's response before hurting his knee. This is the time of year when Wallace is a head-to-toe welt. He enjoys his reputation as “Crash,'' the high-flying risk-taker seemingly made of Kevlar.
Concussions? Had 'em. Broken ribs? Had 'em. Deflated lung? Sure.
So it was predictable Wednesday night when Wallace told the team medical staff he was playing again in the second half against the Sacramento Kings. Wallace felt the only way to worsen the injury was sitting and allowing it to stiffen.
The doctors thought otherwise. According to coach Larry Brown, team physicians Glenn Perry and Joe Garcia had serious reservations about Wallace re-entering the game.
Wallace insisted he play and walked out for halftime warm-ups. So Brown and the medical staff stood in a line, clearly tense, in front of the Bobcats' bench as Wallace took jump shots and jogged and cut.
Finally Brown turned to Garcia for a judgment.
“Play him,” Brown recalled Garcia responding.
A magnetic resonance imaging Thursday showed no structural damage, just a bone bruise. Wallace plans to play Friday night in a road game against the Toronto Raptors.
But this begs the question, how does Wallace distinguish between occupational pain and true injury?
“I'm so used to being sore when I play that I just ignore pain now,” he said. “It's irritating. But it's something I've got to do. It's the style I play, so it's something I have to accept.”
Wallace has been hospitalized this season after suffering a cracked rib and deflated lung in a collision with Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum. Earlier in his Bobcats career he was knocked cold at practice after running into then-teammate Tamar Slay.
How do you know when courage ends and discretion must prevail?
“If I can't move, then it's really hurting,” Wallace said. “(Wednesday) night when I fell, it was a sharp pain, but then it loosened up. It was sore, but I was all right.”
“The Lakers game – the rib injury – I couldn't move, I couldn't breathe. I didn't want to move, I didn't want to breathe.''
Brown has plenty of experience with this. In Philadelphia, he coached Allen Iverson and Eric Snow, two guys who never thought injuries should hold them out. Here in Charlotte, point guard Raymond Felton has a similar resolve.
How do you manage those people?
“Those guys aren't built the same way,” Brown said. “I've had guys where they get a little bit of sandpaper in their jock, and they can't play. Not that they don't want to. Then you have guys who (say) no way they're not going to play.
“You've got to trust competent (medical) people to make that call.''