Born in 1974 in Alabama, four-time NBA All-Star Ben Wallace spent the majority of his playing career with the Detroit Pistons playing in the center position.
After going undrafted in the 1996 NBA draft, he signed with the Washington Bullets. That unsuccessful and unnoteworthy stint lasting 3 years and a series of trades would finally result in him going to the Detroit Pistons for the 2000-2001 season, and it was at Detroit Pistons that he made his mark.
Throughout his first 6 year stint at Detroit, Ben Wallace was voted NBA DPOY four times ( 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 ) and he was voted NBA All-Star four times. With his peak being his 2004 NBA finals victory in which he arguably single handily shut down the Lakers offence which at the time consisted of a mid-aged Shaq, prime Kobe, and a then wilting Karl Malone. An impressive feat for someone who was undrafted and was extremely undersized for a center, standing at a mere 6ft 9in.
YouTube: Ben Wallace Defense on Shaq – 2004 Finals Game 3
So why is he overlooked? For the same reason people overlook other greats such as Moses Malone, Dennis Rodman and Draymond Green. It’s because they did all the dirty work without any of the pretty work.
Wallace could never have been a marketable figure and no one really inspired to be Ben Wallace, people at the time were looking at Kobe as their icons or maybe even Paul Pierce or T-Mac, no one ever wanted to be a Ben Wallace who was almost camped in the post battling it out with some of the roughest and toughest at the time.
Ben Wallace had been overlooked throughout his career and it may continue to haunt him as many believed that he should have been in line before T-Mac to be wearing that Naismith Orange Blazer.
Ben Wallace gave his all to the game of basketball, from the hours he spent on the court to the weight room and back to the court, his contributions to basketball have gone sorely unnoticed and for someone who had an almost identical style of defense to Bill Russell, a man many consider to as the father of basketball defense, it is hard to see why he doesn’t get the same defensive recognition that Dikembe Mutombo and Bill Russell receive.