It's media day, and Chris Webber is all business. He scowls. He gestures forcefully as he speaks. The Kings need to get mean this season, he preaches to the cameras. Playoff victories don't mean anything without a title. People will need to step up. People like 6'7" Gerald Wallace, the third-year forward who must help fill the void left by the departure of Jimmy Jackson and Hedo Turkoglu.
Just as Webber is making his point, Wallace himself walks over, looking very focused. Or at least as focused as a man in a purple velour leisure suit, big puffy hat, dollar sign earrings and giant sunglasses can look. Abruptly, many of the cameras turn away from Webber and follow Wallace as he pimp-walks away, having a good time in one of the costumes that was on hand for a photo shoot.
As much of a jokester as the 21-year-old Wallace may be, he is serious about earning meaningful minutes and living up to the Kings' expectations. During three years of mostly spot duty, he has shown flashes of brilliance, especially on defense and in transition. After recovering from surgery in June to correct tendinitis in his left shoulder, Wallace says he worked on his jumper by making 1,000 to 1,500 of them a day, often shooting 3,000 or more to get to that number. While this figure seems hard to believe—even if Wallace hoisted a shot every five seconds, without resting, that would take four hours—Sacramento isn't paying him to do math. And they've got to like his confidence. "I don't feel any pressure," says Wallace. "I'll take on all the competition. I'm ready."
If he's not joking, the Kings could be even better than last year.