John Wallace Visits!

John Wallace Visits!
Posted on 03/04/2020
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Recently Mr. Lambert’s Sports & Society Distance Learning class enjoyed the privilege of hosting a most distinguished guest speaker.  John Wallace enjoyed a storied basketball career, playing collegiately at Syracuse University from 1992-1996, before taking his talents to the NBA.  One of the best players in the storied program’s history, Wallace led Syracuse to the 1996 Final Four, where his team was ultimately defeated by Kentucky in the title game.  During an excitement filled March Madness, Wallace played a pivotal role in his team’s thrilling Sweet 16 overtime win versus Georgia, drilling the winning three-pointer to lift the Orange to victory.  He finished his tremendous Syracuse career with an impressive 2,119 points scored and 1,065 rebounds.  After being selected with the 18th pick of the NBA Draft by the New York Knicks, Wallace played for five teams over the course of his seven seasons in the league.

Joining the class from the Distance Learning classroom of receiving school OESJ, Wallace generously spent 35 minutes sharing the story of his athletic journey and answering questions from students at all four participating schools (Amsterdam, Granville, OESJ, and Whitehall).  With a disarming smile and a tremendous sense of humor and charisma, Wallace recounted several anecdotes from his time in college and professional basketball. In the process, he extolled the importance of goal setting, hard work, and confidence. When asked by Granville student Ryan Kunen about the greatness of his legendary college coach, Jim Boeheim, Wallace stated, “What Coach Boeheim was the greatest at was making his players believe they were better than they really were.  He made an average player believe he was good, a good player believe he was great, and a great player believe he was unstoppable.” 

As the class period progressed, Wallace candidly addressed questions regarding a variety of topics, many focusing specifically on his experiences involving NBA legends such as Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and the late Kobe Bryant.  Throughout his time with the group, Wallace remained extremely engaged with students, even debating with them about a plethora of current NBA topics of discussion.     

Shortly after his visit to Sports & Society, Wallace was honored by a Syracuse University ceremony held to retire his #44 jersey.  It now hangs in the Carrier Dome next to the #15 once worn by Carmelo Anthony. 

The Sports & Society students, many of them diehard Syracuse fans, were both surprised and impressed by Wallace’s presence.  Foremost among them was Amsterdam senior Jacob Palczak, who shared, “As an avid, intense, and diehard fan, I was shell shocked seeing John Wallace, a former Syracuse star, in the DL classroom I walk into everyday. It was great being able to pick his brain about his days back at ‘Cuse and especially about currently debated topics, like who’s the greatest basketball player ever. We had a pretty heated argument, but in the end it was all fun and a great experience I was blessed to have.” 

Mason Snell, a sophomore and three-sport athlete at OESJ remarked, “Having John in our class was a very cool experience.  Jake and John going back and forth as they debated LeBron, Kobe, and MJ, was very funny and entertaining.” Cody Rice, a Granville senior athlete further commented, “Listening to John Wallace was very inspiring, and interacting with him was a great opportunity.”

Mr. Lambert echoed students’ sense of appreciation, stating, “This class encompasses so much more than just being a sports fan.  Some of the course’s goals include exposing students to a variety of experiences and perspectives, engaging in insightful and meaningful discussions, and providing kids with tools they can use to emerge as better athletes and leaders.  John Wallace’s presentation hit all of these points of emphasis. It was extremely generous of him to selflessly give of his time for the benefit of our group.”