Catching Up With Gerald Wallace & Keith Bogans
During a break in the summer, the duo dropped in to watch the Charlotte Sting's home game against Minnesota last Thursday at the Charlotte Coliseum and took time to acknowledge some of the important people in their lives.
So what was on their minds?
For Wallace, it was his kids – son, Davyn, and daughters, Malliyah and Mya.
“I’ve just been chilling, relaxing and having fun enjoying the summer with my kids,” Wallace said at halftime. “I work on my game about three days out of the week and the rest of the week is for my kids. I try to be with them as much as possible because I’m away from them for six months during the season.
“We just play and have fun. I take them to the gym with me sometimes. I go swimming with them and everything, and for the past two weeks I’ve been shooting firecrackers every day. They get a real kick out of that.”
While the Wallace kids have been enjoying spending some quality time with their dad, some Bobcats fans at the Sting game got an unexpected treat as Bogans was walking off the court at the end of the game. On his way to the exit, and in the middle of an interview, Bogans put the interview on hold to stop and sign some autographs. He did not need to do this. With a tape recorder in his face, he could have taken the easy route and kept right on walking, acting as if his concentration was focused solely on the interview. But he didn’t. He took the time to stop and make the day of some young fans by simply scribbling his name on a piece of paper.
“You have to think about the fans,” Bogans said as he returned to the interview. “They’re one of the main reasons we’re able to play this game.”
Continuing to improve their game is something that both Wallace and Bogans did last season. Wallace played in 70 games and averaged 11.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.3 blocks for the Bobcats. Bogans appeared in 74 games with averages of 9.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists. Although the Bobcats finished 18-64 overall in their inaugural season, both Wallace and Bogans are impressed with the acquisitions of North Carolina point guard Raymond Felton (No. 5 pick overall) and forward Sean May (No. 13 pick overall) in the 2005 NBA Draft and believe this is another step in the right direction of building the Charlotte franchise.
“It’s going to be exciting to be uptown in the new arena,” Bogans said. “We’ve got a new team and just drafted two good, young guys from North Carolina, so I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun. My expectations are that we make it to the playoffs and just try to do the best we can. I’m pretty sure we’ll be a lot better than we were last year.”
While he’s not ready to put the Bobcats in the playoffs just yet, Wallace acknowledge that the growth process of building a solid foundation seems to be working in Charlotte.
“They’re gradually showing everybody that they’re trying to grow,” Wallace said. “We added two great guys from North Carolina – the national champs. We’ve definitely improved a lot, and depending on what they do during free agency, we’ve got a chance to be even better. I just want to continue to build on what we did last year.”
Much will depend on what happens in the upcoming weeks as Bobcats fans wait and see if Wallace and Bogans are going to get the chance to grow with the organization. Charlotte has already extended qualifying offers to Wallace, Bogans, Jason Kapono and Matt Carroll. As restricted free agents, the Bobcats now have the right to match any other NBA team’s offer for any of these players. But both Wallace and Bogans acknowledged that Charlotte is the first choice on their lists of where they want to be.
“This is definitely my first choice,” Wallace said. “This was my first stop and is where I want to be. I want to make my home here and stay and grow with the franchise. I’m here, and they’re going to be the first people that I meet with and talk to. I want them to have the first opportunity.”
Bogans is here, as well. In fact, he has been working out with the team’s coaches this week and doesn’t hide his feelings for where he wants to lace up his sneakers next season.
“I’m just trying to wait and see how it goes,” Bogans said. “I think Coach Bickerstaff and the rest of the staff are doing a great job of going out and getting the guys that we need to play Bobcats basketball. I want to be here in Charlotte. It’s a new franchise that is growing, and I want to be a part of it. I want to play here for a while and make sure my career can last as long as it can here. We’re just going to wait and see.”
Until then, Wallace and Bogans will go back to doing what is really important – Wallace will play with his kids, Bogans will continue to sign autographs and both players will continue to work hard in the gym improving their game.
By Matt Rochinski, BobcatsBasketball.com