When Ben Wallace was traded from the Orlando Magic to the Detroit Pistons for Grant Hill in 2000, it wasn’t thought of as much of a deal for the Pistons. After all, they were losing a superstar who had decided he was not going to re-sign with the Pistons. By acquiring Wallace and point guard Chucky Atkins, the Pistons were at least trying to get something for Hill.
There was no way Wallace, listed at 6-foot-9, but closer to 6-7, and undrafted out of tiny Virginia Union University, could fill Hill’s void. After all, Wallace had virtually no offensive skills besides dunking the ball, although he was a good defender and rebounder.
As it turned out, it is one of the greatest trades in Pistons’ history.
Some how, some way, the Pistons struck gold. Wallace, playing every possession with power, ferocity, and intelligence, set a tone for the Pistons that would make them perennial NBA powers, and ultimately, NBA champions.
Meanwhile, injuries wrecked the prime of Hill’s career.
Wallace didn’t lead the Pistons, he willed the Pistons. He poured his heart and soul into every game. He was a perfect match with his teammates Chauncey Buillups (whose No. 1 jersey will be retired next month). Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace. The Pistons made it to six consecutive Eastern Conference Finals, and in 2004, the Pistons took out the Los Angeles Lakers to win the NBA title.
Saturday night Wallace will be honored when the Pistons retire his No. 3 uniform at the Palace. Not bad for a guy who in his 16 year career averaged five points and nearly nine rebounds per game. It is indeed a fitting honor. Wallace was beloved in Detroit during his nine season. He epitomized the no nonsense, blue collar work ethic of the Motor City, which is still the heart and soul of the nation’s manufacturing belt.
The Pistons will be hosting the world champion Golden State Warriors, who are led by the great Stephen Curry. However, at the heart and soul of the Warriors is a kid from Saginaw, Mi., which is just an hour away from Detroit, and that is Draymond Green.
The Warriors’ 6-6, do-it all forward, penned an open letter to Wallace in the Detroit Free Press. It is a wonderful tribute to the impact Wallace had in Detroit. Linked is a highlight tape of Wallace. Unlike most highlight tapes, Big Ben’s highlights aren’t flashy plays, but plays that help win games. Not much flash, but plenty of substance.