On Jan. 27, Charlotte Bobcats leading scorer Gerald Wallace suffered a broken rib and a partially collapsed lung after he was knocked to the floor on a flagrant foul by Andrew Bynum during the Cats' double-overtime road win over the Lakers. After spending two nights in the hospital, Wallace was released and free to go back to North Carolina. But the catch was he couldn't hop a plane, for fear that the skies wouldn't be friendly enough for his pipes. The doctors were worried that Wallace's body wouldn't respond well to pressure changes in altitude. Hence, the road trip of a lifetime.
AP Photo/Chris Carlson
Gerald Wallace ended up with a partially collapsed lung after this hard foul by Andrew Bynum.
Page 2: You just logged 2,400 miles in a bus. How was it?
Gerald Wallace: It wasn't so bad. Actually, it turned out to be a lot better than we thought it could ever be.
What was it like in there?
It was like a tour bus, with a bed and a TV -- satellite TV -- so it was kind of like being at home in your house, except we were moving. We had stuff to watch and stuff to eat and drink. It was pretty comfortable.
Who else was on it?
Well, the driver, and my wife and my daughter. My daughter pretty much ran from the front of the bus to the back of the bus for the entire trip. I just laid down and rested up.
What movies got you by? Or were you watching NBA games on that live feed?
Nah, we watched a lot of cartoons during the day. Then we watched "House of Pain," "Meet the Browns," "Fantastic Four," "Transformers"
When's the last time you were on a bus that wasn't going to or from an arena?
I've never been on one. That was actually the first time for me.
What? Did it make you want to invest in one for family road trips?
You know, it's nice to take a little road trip. I don't want to do the driving, but it's not a bad way to travel. Easier than airport security. A lot easier.
Were there any interesting pit stops?
Not too much out of the ordinary. You just keep driving along. We left on Tuesday, and we got here Thursday morning about 6 a.m. We had to stop and eat. I guess it's mandatory for the drivers to get off the road and stop and eat at a restaurant, so we stopped to gas up and to go in and eat. I think we made about seven or eight stops along the way.
What's the first thing you did when you got off that bus?
I went straight to the shower.
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images
The Bobcats need Wallace on the floor if they want to challenge for a playoff berth.
It's rough. And it's really strange. It's like somebody went and covered up your mouth while you were trying to breathe. It's like you're trying to take it in, but there's no oxygen going down. You get tired doing every little thing. It makes everything a little difficult and uncomfortable -- breathing, talking, just moving around. Even sleeping -- you wouldn't think about that, but I'm still having trouble sleeping.
Did you know something was seriously wrong right away?
Yeah, immediately I knew something wasn't right. I remember I knew my rib was broken right on the ground.
Buses are infamously bumpy rides -- were the shocks tough on your bones?
Not with that bus, it was a really smooth ride. There wasn't much bopping around at all in that thing.
How's the pain today?
The pain is almost gone, but I still have soreness. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say now I'm probably at about a 5 around the rib, with the general soreness making it about a 6. But it's getting better, and it's something I can work through.
So, then, did you pull the bus over to shoot around, or what?
Nah, we were just trying to get back home. But I'm cleared to shoot and run -- basically I can do everything but [full] contact and fly.
How many times have you seen the play?
I saw it twice. I watched it the night after.
What's your take on Bynum's foul?
I think it was a flagrant foul. I think it was a pretty hard foul but, you know, I think that's kind of part of basketball.
You think he had it out for you?
No, I don't think he was intentionally trying to hurt me.
Victor Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images
Larry Brown has brought a new style to the Bobcats -- we'll see if he's successful.
We're right there. This team is right there. We get a little lackadaisical at times; we don't rebound, and we turn the ball over. If we could keep the energy up, even up the rebounds and protect the ball, we'd put ourselves in a real good situation to contend.
What's the biggest difference between your new coach, Larry Brown, and the former Cats regime?
Coach is intense. He brings it back to basics, and he's just more focused on the little details.
Do the Cats have any shot at a playoff run this year?
I think so. We have been playing well. Unfortunately, with the injuries and a bad road trip, we have been faced with a little setback, but I think we're still in position and capable of going on a nice little run. It would be nice to get a couple of games here before the All-Star break, and then come back after and make a real strong case for ourselves. I'll be back after the break.
Mary Buckheit is a Page 2 columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.