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Bonzi Wells
Shooting guard/small forward
Born September 28, 1976 (1976-09-28) (age 33)
Muncie, Indiana
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Listed weight 210 lb (95 kg)
College Ball State
Draft 11th overall, 1998
Detroit Pistons
Pro career 1998–present
Former teams Portland Trail Blazers (1998–2003)
Memphis Grizzlies (2003–2005)
Sacramento Kings (2005–2006)
Houston Rockets (2006–2008)
New Orleans Hornets (2008)
Shanxi Zhongyu (2008–2009)

Gawen DeAngelo "Bonzi" Wells (born September 28, 1976 in Muncie, Indiana, U.S.) is an American professional basketball player. A 6' 5" (1.95 m) shooting guard, he last played for Shanxi Zhongyu of the Chinese Basketball Association.[1]



Wells attended Muncie Central High School where after he went on to play at Ball State University, also in Muncie. There he was named MAC freshman of the year in the 1994–1995 season.[2] Wells broke Ron Harper's record of 2,377 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.[2] 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[2] 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.[3] 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.[4]

NBA career

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

Portland Trail Blazers

As a swingman in Portland, Wells achieved career highs in scoring and improved somewhat on defense, and picked up what some would call an undeserved bad-boy image[5] while sharing the role of co-captain with Rasheed Wallace. Bonzi however did have his share of on and off the 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".[6] 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.[7] This only went to further the team's derisive nickname, Portland Jail Blazers. Trail Blazers management made an oath to the City of Portland to have a team of upstanding Portlanders and drastically restructured the team. In an exchange that emphasized the urgency to release Wells, he was sent to the Memphis Grizzlies in a trade 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.[8] The co-captains would carry the sixth-seeded Trail Blazers to a decisive Game 7 verses the Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki led three-seed. The Mavericks won the series, and thirteen games into the following season Wells was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies. The Trail Blazers would not qualify again for the NBA Playoffs until the 2008-09 season.

Memphis Grizzlies

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 his duties mid-way through the 2004–05 season, Mike Fratello took over as head coach. It appeared Wells was finally going to be given a chance 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 by Fratello, he was suspended in Game 2 of the series against the powerhouse Phoenix Suns. He returned in Game 3[9], only to play nine minutes. Wells did not dress for the series-ending Game 4.[9]

Sacramento Kings

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, in a move that would earn him the number seven spot on GQ's Ten Most Hated Athletes list.[10] He was also forced to changed 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.[11] 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.

When Wells entered free agency at the closing of the season, teammate Ron Artest offered to forego his entire salary in order to keep him on the team.

Houston Rockets

Wells returns to the bench, alongside an injured Tracy McGrady, during a 2008 away game at Madison Square Garden.

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.[12] 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.[13]

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.[14] 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. Unfortunately, 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."[15] 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[1]. On June 23rd, it was announced he had opted to stay with the Rockets and exercised the last year of his contract.

New Orleans Hornets

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.[16] February 23rd, Bonzi made his Hornets debut when he came off the bench scoring 2 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals in a loss (98–89) to the San Antonio Spurs.

The Hornets decided not to renew Bonzi's contract for the 2008–09 NBA season.[17] To start the season, Wells was an unrestricted free agent without a team.

Shanxi Zhongyu

Wells chose to sign with Shanxi Zhongyu of the Chinese Basketball Association[18] rather than play for the NBA's minimum salary.[19][20] In his debut with the Shanxi Zhongyu, he scored 48 points and tallied 11 rebounds.[21]

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.[1]

Personal life

Gawen DeAngelo Wells is named after his father Gawen Wells.[22] The nickname, Bonzi, originated from the cravings his mother, Christine Scaife Coleman,[22] 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.[23] He is the father to three sons, Duane, Gawen and Christian.[22]

In 2003, Wells shed tears of joy when his hometown Roy C. Buley Community Center named its gymnasium in his honor. It is now called the Bonzi Wells Gymnasium.[24] 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 didn't expect such a reaction, that he was "doing it for the children."[24]

NBA career statistics

  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

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 1.2 .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


1999–00 Portland 14 0 13.4 .446 .200 .707 2.5 .9 .5 .0 7.8
2001–02 Portland 3 3 35.3 .368 .000 .692 4.0 4.3 2.0 .3 12.3
2002–03 Portland 7 7 38.3 .395 .300 .667 6.9 3.7 2.1 .4 19.0
2003–04 Memphis 4 0 23.5 .514 .000 .643 3.0 1.0 1.0 .2 11.8
2004–05 Memphis 2 0 12.5 .444 .000 1.000 2.0 1.5 1.0 .5 7.0
2005–06 Sacramento 6 6 41.5 .609 .625 .651 12.0 1.3 .8 .3 23.2
2007–08 New Orleans 12 0 14.2 .386 .000 .000 2.6 .7 .3 .2 3.7
Career 48 16 22.9 .455 .276 .660 4.5 1.6 .9 .2 10.8


  1. ^ a b Wells ends spell in China with Shanxi Zhongyu.
  2. ^ a b c BSU Basketball History :: :: Ball State Sports Community
  3. ^ Bonzi Wells, Ball State
  4. ^ President's Letter, March 2005
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ RealGM: Wiretap Archives: Bonzi Wells, Erick Barkley Charged
  8. ^ Glenn James. April 23, 2003 "Nash's Clutch Trey Trips Up Blazers
  9. ^ a b Suns Continue to Shine
  10. ^ The Ten Most Hated Athletes
  11. ^ Associated Press. December 29, 2003 "ESPN - Guard led Kings in scoring for seven years - NBA"
  12. ^ Ric Bucher. September 28, 2006 "ESPN - Agent: Wells agrees to two-year deal with Rockets - NBA"
  13. ^ McGrady Shines in Rockets’ Comeback Win Over Kings
  14. ^ Rockets' Wells may help fill void left by McGrady | - Houston Chronicle
  15. ^ ESPN - Wells tells team trainer he's disrupting chemistry - NBA
  16. ^ Hornets acquire Wells, James from Rockets, send Jackson to Houston
  17. ^ CASAGRANDE, MICHAEL (2008-10-29). "NBA season opens – minus Bonzi Wells". The Star Press. Retrieved 2008-10-29.  
  18. ^ Bonzi Wells joins CBA with Shanxi Zhongyu
  19. ^ "Top 10 Unemployed Players". ESPN. 2008-11-14. Retrieved 22 November 2008.  
  20. ^ "Bonzi Wells en Espagne?" (in French). Retrieved 22 November 2008.  
  21. ^ "Bonzi Wells scores 48 in China basketball debut". AFP. 2008-12-22. Retrieved 2008-12-222.  
  22. ^ a b c Bonzi Wells Bio Page
  23. ^ MAL FLORENCE. March 8, 2000 "THE INSIDE TRACK; MORNING BRIEFING; Many Players Don't Mind Getting Needled"
  24. ^ a b Will O'Hargan. September 24, 2004 "Gym renamed after Ball State alumnus"

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