Detroit Pistons: Celebrating Ben Wallace’s Storied Career

Apr 12, 2015; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; A general shot of a basketball with a Detroit Pistons logo on it during the third quarter against the Charlotte Hornets at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Pistons beat the Hornets 116-77. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 12, 2015; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; A general shot of a basketball with a Detroit Pistons logo on it during the third quarter against the Charlotte Hornets at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Pistons beat the Hornets 116-77. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Pistons are set to retire “Big” Ben Wallace’s jersey on Saturday against the Golden State Warriors. Here is a look back at his storied Pistons career.

The Detroit Pistons acquired Ben Wallace on Aug. 3, 2009 with Chucky Atkins from the Orlando Magic in exchange for Grant Hill, and what a deal that turned out to be for the Pistons and Wallace.

Wallace was having a pedestrian career with the Washington Bullets and then-changed Wizards. He asserted himself as a shot blocker and a rebounder, but it wasn’t until he got to Orlando that he became a starter, starting 81 games. Then he moved on to the Pistons, his third team in five years.

Detroit was home to Wallace for nine of his 16 NBA seasons during two separate stints. He entered the prime of his career with the Pistons from 2000-06. Wallace would return from 2009-12 to spend the last three seasons of his career with the Pistons.

After a nine-year career, the Pistons are going to put a No. 3 with the name “Wallace” on a banner and hang it from the rafters of the Palace of Auburn Hills. It’s only fitting that Wallace was a part of their 2003-04 NBA championship team. He was, and is, one of the most enjoyable Pistons players that helped make those teams so successful.

Generation Z may have watched Wallace play and remember his games, but they will never know his true style of play. Wallace was a part of a dying breed of defensive specialists. In today’s NBA game, power forwards and centers are so athletic that they are good offensively too.

It became very clear that Wallace found his niche by rebounding and playing great defense. If Wallace played in today’s NBA game, he may have averaged 20 points per game on alley-oops alone. That’s simply not the case, however.

Wallace led the league in rebounding twice during his NBA career and both times were with the Pistons. During the 2001-02 season, Wallace averaged 13.0 rebounds per game and led the league in defensive rebounds with 749.

During the 2002-03 season, Wallace averaged 15.3 rebounds per game. He accomplished the feat slightly differently than the previous year. Instead of leading the league in defensive rebounds, Wallace led the league in offensive (293) and total rebounds (1,126).

Wallace averaged more than 16 rebounds per game in each of his first two playoff appearances. He averaged 14.3 rebounds per game in the Pistons’ championship run during the 2004 NBA Playoffs.

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It is no secret that Wallace is one of the greatest defenders in NBA history. He asserted himself as one of the best rim protectors of his era. Wallace won the Defensive Player of the Year award four different times for his efforts during the 2001-02, 2002-03, 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons.

Wallace finished his career with 2,137 blocks, which places him 15th on the NBA’s all-time blocks list. In fact, he averaged 2.0 blocks per game over his career, which lands him 22nd all-time.

He led the NBA in shot blocking during the 2001-02 season, averaging a remarkable 3.5 blocks per game. He followed that performance up by averaging 3.2 blocks per game during the 2002-03 season and had a third encore with 3.0 blocks per game during the NBA Finals season in 2003-04.

In his first four playoff appearances, Wallace never averaged lower than 2.4 blocks per game. He averaged a career high 3.1 blocks per game during the 2003 playoffs. He also had a memorable block on Shaq during the 2006 Eastern Conference Finals.

Wallace had 1,369 career steals, which is 58th on the all-time NBA list. He is 56th all-time in steals per game, averaging 1.3 per game. He had two seasons of ranking in the top 10 in steals per game during the 2003-04 and 2005-06 seasons.

Analytically, Wallace is still one of the best defenders to play the game. He leads the NBA in Defensive Box Plus/Minus with a rating of 5.5 for his career. He is fifth all time in defensive rating, with a rating of 95.8.

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Wallace had 70.6 of his 93.5 career win shares coming on the defensive end. His defensive win shares are good enough for 14th all-time. Needless to say, Wallace made a career on his defensive play.

His famous afro turned into a marketing tool. The Pistons used the term “Fear the ‘Fro” while Wallace was playing and leading up to his jersey retirement on Saturday through promotional videos and commercials.

Wallace’s jersey retirement has spiked the sale of Pistons tickets for Saturday’s game. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they are playing the defending-champion Warriors.

The cheapest tickets for a family of four are going for $88.00 a piece on Only Kobe Bryant‘s final game at The Palace rivals the prices for a fan-favorites retirement celebration.

Next: Detroit Pistons: Keys To Tough 4-Game Stretch

Wallace will become the ninth player in Pistons history to have his number retired. Former teammate Chauncey Billups will also have his number retired by the Pistons in February.