Bonzi Wells

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Bonzi Wells
Bonzi-Wells-as-a-Houston-Rocket crop.jpg
Wells with the Rockets in 2008
Personal information
Born (1976-09-28) September 28, 1976 (age 44)
Muncie, Indiana
Listed height6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Listed weight210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
High schoolMuncie Central (Muncie, Indiana)
CollegeBall State (1994–1998)
NBA draft1998 / Round: 1 / Pick: 11th overall
Selected by the Detroit Pistons
Playing career1998–2010
PositionShooting guard / Small forward
Number6, 42, 24
Career history
19982003Portland Trail Blazers
20032005Memphis Grizzlies
2005–2006Sacramento Kings
20062008Houston Rockets
2008New Orleans Hornets
2008–2009Shanxi Zhongyu
2009–2010Capitanes de Arecibo
Career highlights and awards
Stats at

Gawen DeAngelo "Bonzi" Wells (born September 28, 1976) is an American former professional basketball player. He played college basketball at Ball State University and was drafted in the 1998 NBA draft. In the NBA, Wells played for five teams from 1998 to 2008: the Portland Trail Blazers, Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets, and New Orleans Hornets.

College career[edit]

Wells attended Muncie Central High School and then went on to play at Ball State University, also in Muncie. There he was named the Mid-American Conference Freshman Player of the Year in the 1994–95 season, while helping the Cardinals to the NCAA Tournament.[1] Wells broke Ron Harper's conference record of 2,377 career points on a one-handed dunk against Northern Illinois on February 21, 1998. The dunk sent the sell-out crowd at University Arena into a frenzy. A timeout was immediately called and Wells was awarded the game ball by Ball State president John Worthen.[1] Wells also led the Mid-American Conference in steals in 1998 with 73, averaging 3.55 steals in 29 games. Wells led the conference in steals during all four years at Ball State[1] and finished his career as the Mid-American Conference all-time career records in points (2,485) and steals (347). While at Ball State he averaged 21.4 PPG, 3 SPG, and 7.3 RPG.[2] He was selected eleventh overall by the Detroit Pistons in the 1998 NBA draft, but he never played for the Pistons as his draft rights were traded to the Portland Trail Blazers for the Blazers' 1999 first round pick. Six years later Ball State would retire his jersey number, 42, in recognition of his achievements.[3]

NBA career[edit]

Wells warms up with the Grizzlies before the start of a game versus the Charlotte Bobcats in 2005.
Wells takes the ball up court for the Sacramento Kings.
Wells guards Gerald Wallace of the Charlotte Bobcats.

Portland Trail Blazers[edit]

As a swingman in Portland, Wells achieved career highs in scoring and improved somewhat on defense, and picked up what some would call a bad-boy image,[citation needed] while sharing the role of co-captain with Rasheed Wallace. Bonzi, however, did have his share of on- and off-court incidents. During his tenure with the Blazers, Bonzi was suspended for two games for publicly cursing at his coach after being taken out of a game. Bonzi was also fined in a separate incident for making an obscene gesture to a fan in a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. When asked by a media reporter about the incident, he said, "I black out sometimes."[4] Wells was suspended one game without pay and fined $10,000 for intentionally striking and verbally abusing an official in 2000. Bonzi and teammate Erick Barkley in 2001 were cited for criminal trespass after they refused to follow the order of an officer to leave the scene of a fight near a downtown nightclub.[5] This only went to further the team's derisive nickname, The Jail Blazers.[citation needed] Trail Blazers management made an oath to the City of Portland to have a team of upstanding Portlanders,[citation needed] and drastically restructured the team. In an exchange that emphasized the urgency to release Wells, he was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for reserve guard Wesley Person.

Bonzi's legacy in Portland has also been positive. He set the franchise record for most points scored in a playoff game at 45 against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 2003 NBA Playoffs.[6] The co-captains would carry the sixth-seeded Trail Blazers to a decisive Game 7 versus the Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki led three-seeded Mavericks. The Mavericks won the series, and thirteen games into the following season Wells was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for Wesley Person and a 2004 first-round pick.

Memphis Grizzlies[edit]

The unorthodox coaching methods of Hubie Brown and his strict 10-man rotation limited Wells to just under 25 minutes per game for the Grizzlies. This tactic helped them earn their first playoff appearance in franchise history.

After Brown suddenly quit as coach midway through the 2004–05 season, Mike Fratello took over as head coach. It appeared Wells was finally going to be given a chance to pose a threat on the court. This would not come to be, highlighted by the fact that Wells played a total of 27 minutes in the Grizzlies' second playoff appearance in 2005. Citing undisclosed reasons, Fratello suspended him for Game 2 of the series against the powerhouse Phoenix Suns. He returned in Game 3,[7] only to play nine minutes. Wells did not dress for the series-ending Game 4.[7]

Sacramento Kings[edit]

Prior to the start of the 2005–06 NBA season, Wells was acquired from the Grizzlies by the Kings in a trade for point guard Bobby Jackson and center Greg Ostertag. He was also forced to change his jersey number from 6 to 42 upon arrival. In Sacramento the number 6 has been retired in honor of the fans, as in they are the "sixth man" of the team.[8] In the early part of the season, Wells had been a rebounding force for the Kings, recording career-best numbers in rebounds, while also recording excellent assists and steals totals.

In the playoffs, Wells was extremely productive, averaging 23.2 points and 12 rebounds per game in 6 games against the San Antonio Spurs, though the Kings lost the series. When Wells entered free agency at the closing of the season, teammate Ron Artest (now known as Metta World Peace) offered to forgo his entire salary in order to keep him on the team.

Houston Rockets[edit]

The day before the 2006 training camp began, Wells signed with the Houston Rockets, with a salary of "only" $2 million in the initial season.[9] This was considered to be a great bargain for the Rockets, as Wells had turned down a 5-year, $38.5 million offer from the Kings.[10]

Wells missed the beginning of training camp recovering from a groin injury, and then missed several days following dental work. In addition, he was absent on more than one occasion for "personal reasons". Wells played only 30 minutes total, scoring only six points, in the Rockets' second and third games of the season. Wells was not pleased with his playing time, and neither was coach Jeff Van Gundy with Wells' weight and lack of conditioning.[11] Van Gundy placed Wells on the inactive list, dismissed him from team practices for over a month, and relegated him to working with trainers and on the exercise bicycle to improve his conditioning. Unsatisfied with his progress, Van Gundy eventually told him to stay away from the Toyota Center.

In December, Wells and his coach reconciled their differences and Bonzi was allowed back into practice. He returned to action against the Los Angeles Lakers on December 12, and over the next two weeks, his playing time gradually increased. He suffered a back injury in late December that would force him to miss the Rockets' next 10 games. He returned to the lineup on January 17, and saw consistent playing time off the bench, highlighted by his 14 points in a win against his former team, the Trail Blazers.

On April 9, Wells failed to show up for a road trip to face the Seattle SuperSonics. His status was unknown, but it was reported that he left a message on athletic trainer Keith Jones' answering machine. In it, he said he felt like he was "disrupting team chemistry."[12] After coach Jeff Van Gundy was fired and the former Kings coach Rick Adelman was named as the replacement, he expressed his willingness to return.[13] On June 23, it was announced he had opted to stay with the Rockets and exercised the last year of his contract.

New Orleans Hornets[edit]

On February 21, 2008, Wells was traded to the New Orleans Hornets along with Mike James as part of a three-team deal involving Houston and the Memphis Grizzlies. The agreement sent New Orleans guard Bobby Jackson to Houston, marking the second time Wells and Jackson swapped teams via trade.[14] February 23, Bonzi made his Hornets debut when he came off the bench registering 2 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals in a 98–89 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

The Hornets decided not to renew Wells's contract for the 2008–09 NBA season.[15]

Minnesota Timberwolves[edit]

In December 2011, Wells signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but he did not make their final roster.[16]

Shanxi Zhongyu[edit]

Wells chose to sign with Shanxi Zhongyu of the Chinese Basketball Association[17] rather than play for the NBA's minimum salary.[18][19] In his debut with the Shanxi Zhongyu, he scored 48 points and tallied 11 rebounds.[20]

His contract with the team was terminated on February 2, 2009, after he failed to promptly return to the team after the Chinese New Year break.[21]

Capitanes de Arecibo[edit]

On November 25, 2009 Wells signed a contract with Puerto Rican team Capitanes de Arecibo.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Gawen DeAngelo Wells is named after his father Gawen Wells.[23] The nickname, Bonzi, originated from the cravings his mother, Christine Scaife Coleman,[23] had for ice cream bonbons during her pregnancy with him. His parents called him "bonbon" until the age of two, and it eventually evolved into what it is today.[24] He is the father to three sons, Duane, Gawen and Christian.[23]

In 2003, Wells shed tears when his hometown Roy C. Buley Community Center named its gymnasium in his honor. It is now called the Bonzi Wells Gymnasium.[25] As a small child at the community center watching teams get picked for a game from the sidelines "like a cheerleader," his uncle and team captain chose the young Bonzi. "I thought he was kidding," Wells recalls, "but he really picked me. And I played as hard as I can. I can remember that day like it was yesterday and that was the day that really made me want to be one of the best." Wells, who donated money to keep the gymnasium from closing its doors, said he did not expect such a reaction, and that he was "doing it for the children."[25]

In 2019, Wells served as a Sports Envoy to China for the U.S. State Department's Sports Diplomacy Office.[26]

NBA career statistics[edit]

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high

Regular season[edit]

1998–99 Portland 7 0 5.0 .550 .333 .444 1.3 .4 .1 .1 4.4
1999–00 Portland 66 0 17.6 .492 .377 .682 2.8 1.5 1.0 .2 8.8
2000–01 Portland 75 46 26.6 .533 .340 .663 4.9 2.8 1.3 .3 12.7
2001–02 Portland 74 69 31.7 .469 .384 .741 6.0 2.8 1.5 .3 17.0
2002–03 Portland 75 65 31.9 .441 .292 .722 5.3 3.3 1.6 .2 15.2
2003–04 Portland 13 10 31.1 .389 .125 .778 4.7 2.7 1.5 .2 12.2
2003–04 Memphis 59 17 24.9 .437 .344 .750 3.4 1.8 1.2 .3 12.3
2004–05 Memphis 69 19 21.6 .441 .346 .750 3.3 1.2 1.2 .4 10.4
2005–06 Sacramento 52 41 32.4 .463 .222 .679 7.7 2.8 1.8 .5 13.6
2006–07 Houston 28 1 21.1 .411 .143 .561 4.3 1.1 .9 .5 7.8
2007–08 Houston 51 7 22.0 .425 .211 .638 5.1 1.6 1.0 .5 9.2
2007–08 New Orleans 22 0 19.9 .490 .333 .660 3.2 .8 1.1 .4 8.8
Career 591 275 25.6 .460 .327 .697 4.6 2.1 1.3 .3 12.1


2000 Portland 14 0 13.4 .446 .200 .707 2.5 .9 .5 .0 7.8
2002 Portland 3 3 35.3 .368 .000 .692 4.0 4.3 2.0 .3 12.3
2003 Portland 7 7 38.3 .395 .300 .667 6.9 3.7 2.1 .4 19.0
2004 Memphis 4 0 23.5 .514 .000 .643 3.0 1.0 1.0 .3 11.8
2005 Memphis 2 0 12.5 .444 .000 1.000 2.0 1.5 1.0 .5 7.0
2006 Sacramento 6 6 41.5 .609 .625 .651 12.0 1.3 .8 .3 23.2
2008 New Orleans 12 0 14.2 .386 .000 .000 2.6 .7 .3 .3 3.7
Career 48 16 22.9 .455 .276 .660 4.5 1.6 .9 .2 10.8

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c BSU Basketball History :: :: Ball State Sports Community Archived November 26, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Bonzi Wells, Ball State
  3. ^ President's Letter, March 2005 Archived March 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 6, 2004. Retrieved July 5, 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ RealGM: Wiretap Archives: Bonzi Wells, Erick Barkley Charged Archived November 13, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Glenn James. April 23, 2003 "Nash's Clutch Trey Trips Up Blazers Archived May 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ a b " Suns Continue to Shine". Archived from the original on June 25, 2008. Retrieved July 5, 2006.
  8. ^ Associated Press. December 29, 2003 "ESPN - Guard led Kings in scoring for seven years - NBA"
  9. ^ Ric Bucher. September 28, 2006 "ESPN - Agent: Wells agrees to two-year deal with Rockets - NBA"
  10. ^ " McGrady Shines in Rockets' Comeback Win Over Kings". Archived from the original on January 16, 2009. Retrieved April 9, 2007.
  11. ^ Rockets' Wells may help fill void left by McGrady | - Houston Chronicle
  12. ^ ESPN - Wells tells team trainer he's disrupting chemistry - NBA
  13. ^ Wells wants to return to Rockets with new coach - NBA - ESPN
  14. ^ Hornets acquire Wells, James from Rockets, send Jackson to Houston
  15. ^ CASAGRANDE, MICHAEL (October 29, 2008). "NBA season opens – minus Bonzi Wells". The Star Press. Retrieved October 29, 2008.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ Bonzi Wells cut by Minnesota Timberwolves[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ Bonzi Wells joins CBA with Shanxi Zhongyu Archived December 15, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "Top 10 Unemployed Players". ESPN. November 14, 2008. Retrieved November 22, 2008.
  19. ^ "Bonzi Wells en Espagne?" (in French). Retrieved November 22, 2008.
  20. ^ "Bonzi Wells scores 48 in China basketball debut". AFP. December 22, 2008. Retrieved December 22, 2008.
  21. ^ Wells ends spell in China with Shanxi Zhongyu.
  22. ^ Bonzi Wells resurfaces in Puerto Rico League
  23. ^ a b c Bonzi Wells Bio Page Archived June 25, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ Florence, Mal. March 8, 2000 "THE INSIDE TRACK; MORNING BRIEFING; Many Players Don't Mind Getting Needled"
  25. ^ a b Will O'Hargan. September 24, 2004 "Gym renamed after Ball State alumnus Archived July 4, 2007, at the Wayback Machine"
  26. ^ "Sports and Public Diplomacy Envoys (2005-Present) | Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs". Retrieved October 5, 2020.

External links[edit]