When Ben Wallace played his final season with the Detroit Pistons in 2012, his legacy as one of the greatest players in franchise history — as well as one of the greatest defensive players to ever grace the NBA — was sealed. He was an icon in Detroit, enrapturing fans with his passion and iconic afro.
On Sunday, Wallace’s legacy will be recognized when he is elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021, a league source confirmed to the Free Press. He became one of 14 finalists for the class in March. The ceremony will take place in September, and will make Wallace the first undrafted player inducted into the Hall of Fame.
During his 16-year NBA career, Wallace earned the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award four times (2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006), all with the Pistons. He was also the defensive anchor for the 2004 ‘Goin to Work’ championship team. Wallace spent nine seasons with the organization, from 2002-06 and from 2009-12.
In 1,088 career games, he averaged 5.7 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.3 steals and two blocks in 29.5 minutes per game with Washington, Orlando, Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland.
The White Hall, Alabama, native played two seasons at Cuyahoga Community College, a junior college in Cleveland, before transferring to Virginia Union, a Division II school. Wallace went undrafted in 1996 and briefly spent time in Italy before signing with the Washington Bullets, with whom he spent the first three years of this NBA career.
He was traded from Orlando, along with Chucky Atkins, to the Pistons as part of the Grant Hill sign-and-trade in the summer of 2000.
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The Pistons retired Wallace’s No. 3 jersey in 2016, and he was also inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.
ESPN was first to report the news.