There was once a time in the early-to-mid 2000’s when Ben Wallace roamed the paint on defense, lurking for an offensive player silly enough to attempt to shoot on him or the opposing offensive player trying to outmaneuver him for a rebound.
Today, he's just another player on the Detroit Pistons roster, coming off the bench and posting modest numbers.
This isn't to discredit his value to the team, as I'm sure he's perhaps seen as a Juwan Howard 2.0 to Detroit. But, we must remember that Ben Wallace was a defensive force at one point for Detroit and the NBA.
From 2002-2006, Wallace tacked numerous of all-star appearances, all-defensive teams and four Defensive Player of the Year awards.
In that five-year run, he averaged 12.86 rebounds and 2.82 blocks per game. He was respected all across the league for his defensive ability and revered by fans with his identifiable cornrows or sported afro.
Signing with the Chicago Bulls in the 2006-07 offseason, Ben Wallace still had a noteworthy campaign, averaging 10.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. But it was the last season he would average rebounds in double digits and more than two blocks in a season.
Two seasons in Chicago, two in Cleveland and now in his third season with his round-trip to the Pistons, Wallace is long past his prime. His defensive numbers declined overall and his case for the hall isn’t getting any better after last season’s paltry numbers (4.3 RPG, 0.8 BPG).
To reiterate the point above, maybe Wallace is seen as the teammate who younger guys look up to and can talk to whenever an issue sprouts.
Spending numerous years in Detroit, it could also possibly be seen as a place where it’s a safe haven for Wallace, while he has portrayed a Tyson Chandler-like presence on the basketball court the past few seasons.
But next September, Wallace will be turning 38 and his years of terror in the NBA are obviously long gone. Never an offensive wizard, his defense alone is his only standout feature.
His career average is now 9.6 RPG and 2.0 BPG. On paper, Wallace is not a worthy hall of fame candidate just by looking at those numbers.
So is he ruining his legacy by continuing to still play? It all depends on how you look at the situation and if he’s considered by many a Hall of Fame candidate.
Many young fans today may not remember Ben Wallace in his heyday. The likes of Serge Ibaka and Dwight Howard have taken Ben Wallace's spot as defensive stalwarts of the NBA in this day and age.
So maybe he’s not ruining his legacy, maybe when it’s his time to retire he will get the credit that’s due. But, a career that would have emulated Marcus Camby would have best suited Wallace’s legacy.