When he came out of Virginia Union Ben Wallace was known primarily for his defense and rebounding. In his final season he averaged 12.5 points and 10 rebounds per game. Wallace signed as a rookie free agent with the Washington Bullets in 1996 and has since played with the Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls, and Cleveland Cavaliers. During his career Wallace has been named to 4 All-Star teams, won the Defensive Player of the Year Award 4 times, led the league in rebounds per game twice, won an NBA championship, and was named to the All-Defensive First Team 5 times. In Tuesday night’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs Wallace passed former Spurs player Avery Johnson by playing in his 1,055th game to set the record for most games played by an undrafted player since the ABA/NBA merger.
“It takes a special type of guy to stay at something long enough to make it to this level,” Wallace told ESPN.com. “A lot of times you’re being told that you’re too this, you’re too that, you can’t do this, you can’t do that. Once you get here, you want to be able to show everybody that you’re capable of going out and playing at a high level night in and night out. I’m just proud to have had the opportunity to come here and play.”
In his first stint with the Detroit Pistons from 2000-2006 Wallace was as big a part of the team’s success as Richard Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, and Tayshaun Prince. The hardworking (and often under appreciated) Wallace was the backbone 0f the defense that helped Detroit win the 2004 championship. Wallace has said this season will be his last and his story of undrafted free agent to NBA champion would end in enshrinement into the Basketball Hall of Fame if it was up to Pistons coach Lawrence Frank.
“Oh, yeah,” Frank said. “Who knows in terms of the voting? But (from my perspective), without a doubt (Wallace is in).
“You look at what he’s done — he’s a champion, four-time defensive player of the year. I think without a doubt he has credentials to be Hall of Fame-worthy.”
“It doesn’t matter what (the player) thinks, it’s all up to what everybody else thinks,” Wallace said. “If (voters) say I’m a Fall of Famer, then I gotta agree with them.”
I agree with coach Frank, he would get a Hall of Fame vote from me. From 2000-2007 Wallace was one of the more dominating forces in the league on the defensive end. During that time he finished in the top 3 in total rebounds and rebounds per game 5 times, was in the top 3 in blocked shots 4 times, and won his 4 Defensive Player of the Year awards. In 2 of those seasons he finished in the top 10 in steals. Regardless of whether or not he gets in Wallace had a career that far surpassed what probably he or anyone else expected and his imprint on the game and Pistons organization shouldn’t be understated.
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