They Had a Friend Like Ben

By Walik Edwards
Updated: July 6, 2006

CALIFORNIA—While Cubefour Sports re-gathers itself, and the new formation surfaces soon, I, Walik Edwards, has a little chime in about in regards to the Ben Wallace to Chicago deal.

Just in case anyone wants to gripe about management’s loyalty to their players – bugger off!

Thank you, England.

Wallace was rescued from Washington, and put into a role he could excel at. As an undersized center with the sole duty of rebounding – and maybe blocking a shot or two – Wallace became the king of role players.

His legend’s status came from the fact that he could not keep his fro under control. All that hair just flopping around lent notice to the fans, and voters who began to pay attention to Big Ben because of his novelty.

He backed up most of his self-promotion, but he was still a role player on a team where everyone was asked to shed their ego into the woods to work their way to becoming champions.

I’m a lifetime New Jersey Nets fan, but I enjoyed the Pistons because of the five “unselfish” guys who made the team one that could be respected.

No one of their starters was the best at his position, but adding nuances to what they did best made them kings of the hill two years ago, and one of the two blueprints on how it – building a winner – should be done now.

A little of this season’s lackluster finish should be given to new coach Flip Saunders. Not that Saunders brings mediocrity to wherever he’s coached (and two places shouldn’t bring fans to dreading years of first-round dismissals – even though this Wallace move might have done that), but he changed up things that didn’t need to be changed.

He decided he got this golden opportunity, and was going to reward someone because of it.

He rewarded the players by letting them due fly offensively. They made consecutive Finals appearances by being tough on the defense, and keeping scores well within the NCAA range.

But Flip thought he would make nice with his new charges by “unleashing” them from their defensive chains. Telling them they were now a two-way team – but what we all came to realize was that the Pistons were like those kids who weren’t allowed to eat sweets at home, but nearly lapsed into diabetic comas when they were at the friend’s house whose house was wallpapered in candy and sweets.

For all of his faults, Larry Brown took the team Rick Carlisle molded, lit a couple of fires in spots, and made them into NBA champs. It wasn’t easy because Larry Brown’s a pain, but he was smart to know that you piggyback on what’s already going right, and continue on that path.

Flip didn’t and the results exacerbated his legacy as a coach that combines with talented players and makes them big-time underachievers.

The Pistons spent a whole season adjusting to their new identity, but the only one who spoke out against it was Wallace.

Big Ben wasn’t going through another season of offensive folly.

No way.


Silence is foo.

One of the reasons why he spat at the new style was because he couldn’t do the new style. The rest of the Pistons were doing the Cabbage Patch, and he was stuck doing the Running Man.

Wallace has NO offensive game, and that doesn’t bother him. Like Shaquille O’Neal, he’s not spending one second of this off-season practicing a free throw. He’d shave his head bald before working on that fundamental that might help a team like the Bulls pull out a couple of close games.

But this is the reason why I sit alone at CFHQ and write this today: it is time for a huge payday.

Ben Wallace rose from nothing special to becoming a specialist at what he does. He will be 32 in September, and while he thanked the Pistons for helping him and his family to hit some remarkable highs, he is a champion already.

It is time to make the family comfortable for two lifetimes, and the Chicago Bulls were one of those clubs that could supply that wish with their open space for a big contract, and even more after they trade Tyson Chandler. It wasn’t like he was feeling like “I’m the final piece of this championship puzzle” because while the Bulls have some young strenghts, they may still be a couple of years away from being taken seriously.

When Wallce turns 35-36 years old, of course.

This was a security issue, and also an ego thing where it was, “well, do you think I’m valuable enough to pony up to for a bunch of years and a large wheelbarrow worth of money?”

I tend to believe that if the Bulls were strapped, another team would have gotten this Big Ben love just as sweetly.

In the meantime, good luck in the Windy City, MJ’s town, Big Ben.

We knew ye when.