‘Business Decision’ Doesn’t Diminish Wallace’s Six Great Years

By Rob Parker
Updated: July 5, 2006

DETROIT — The initial response to Ben Wallace’s exit from Detroit was probably good riddance.

After all, Wallace took the bigmoney and ran, breaking up the best group since The Beatles.

In reality, Pistons fans should simply wish Big Ben good luck.

It would be silly to be upset at Wallace for taking a four-year, $60 million deal from the Bulls. The offer made by the Pistons — a reported $49.6 million for four years — was respectable, but not enough.

This was all about business, not basketball.

“I appreciate everything that happened in Detroit,” Wallace said. “Fans supported me 100 percent. They adopted me as one of their sons. I’m thankful for that.”

Without question, Wallace was the cornerstone of a beautiful six-year run that helped turn the Pistons from wanna-bes into champions.

The last five years, in fact — five straight 50-plus victory seasons and four straight trips to the Eastern Conference finals — elevated the Pistons to yet another level — the elite.

When we look back at what we’ve watched, it will give us a warm feeling inside and make us relish the memories Ben and Co. delivered.

Best of all, Wallace embraced and represented this city well. He was what we’re all about — working hard and getting the job done even when the odds are stacked against us.

Seeds of a championship

Let’s face it, the only thing more shocking than the Bulls breaking their bank for Wallace is what Big Ben accomplished during his stay in Motown.

Nobody, except maybe team president Joe Dumars, could have known what Wallace would do when he came here along with Chucky Atkins in the sign-and-trade deal with the Orlando Magic for Grant Hill.

At that point, Wallace, an undrafted player out of Virginia Union, hadn’t played that much, first with Washington and then the Magic.

Admit it, you probably said, “Ben who?” when the Pistons made the move.

Well, Wallace turned out to be the first building block this franchise needed.

If you were going to win, you had to be able to play defense. No players gave more of themselves on defense than Wallace. That’s why he’s been named defensive player of the year four of the last five seasons.

We’ll always have memories

Sure, it won’t be the same around The Palace. There won’t be Big Ben’s bell. The Afro wigs will be missing. We won’t hear PA announcer John Mason say “BBBBBBen Wallace” anymore.

Still, it’s better to have had something so special and lose it than to never have had it at all.

“It’s nothing personal,” Wallace said. “It’s a business decision.”

That’s why you have to pull for Wallace to succeed in Chicago — except, of course, when the Bulls play the Pistons.