What the Deuce: The Truth Hurts

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Truth Hurts

No one really thought it would happen. Really, no one thought it would happen. Not the pundits, not the fans, and, most imporantly, management didn't think it'd happen. Why else would they have traded away Darko? But it did happen. Ben Wallace, arguably the man who turned the Pistons into winners, was leaving. No less, he was leaving for the rivals to the West, the Chicago Bulls. To boot, it was the same day Steve Yzerman, the Captain, decided to retire.

Wallace leaving was a loss, but not huge, in my mind. He's going to be 33 at the beginning of the season. He's played over an extra season of basketball in the last 4 years. His RPG and PPG have slowly decreased over the last few seasons. He regularly plays against players who are both heavier and taller. Offensively, Wallace became a liability. Wallace missed 16 of 24 free throws during the Miami series. Most of all, Chicago was offering 60 million, which, everyone agreed, was a classic case of overpaying.

In the days after Wallace signed with the Bulls, people speculated whether there was more to his defection than just the dollars and cents. One story had Wallace leaving, in part, because of a rift with management that resulted from the Pistons not allowing Wallace's brother to attend home games because of his role in the Malice at the Palace. Another, more accurately, cited Wallace's belief that Flip Saunders overly focused on offense, rather than defense. A third stated the Pistons felt that, given the money and the league's emphasis on offense, it made sense to let Wallace go. Still, many of these articles were full of speculation because Wallace refused to really address the reason for his departure.

On Thursday, ESPN.com posted an article, written by Chris Sheridan, in which Wallace finally cleared the air. I read it and was disappointed. I and many other Piston fans loved Wallace because of his attitude - he showed up to play everyday, didn't complain, and put the team ahead of himself. What I got from this article was that Wallace was more selfish that I had originally thought and more sensitive too. Wallace claimed Saunders ignored Wallace's pleas to focus on defense. He was upset that Saunders sat him for the final quarter in Game 6 of the Miami series. He took it personally that Saunders stated that, with Nazr Mohammed, the Pistons would be better on offense.

What Wallace seems to forget is that he was a liability on offense. When asked about Wallace's comments, Saunders pointed out that in the quarter Wallace sat, the Pistons scored the most points of any quarter in their series with Miami. Also, Saunders is right, he is going to be able to run more plays in the post with Mohammed. But Saunders also said Mohammed wouldn't be able to rebound or block shots as well as Wallace did. And if Wallace was unhappy that the Pistons were getting away from lock down defense, he should watch tape of the NBA Playoffs, especially of Dwyane Wade. In fact, he could even read Rasheed Wallace's comments in the Detroit News. Simply, the NBA is promoting offense and flow while getting away from the lockdown defense that helped the Spurs and Pistons win championships. And in this new league, Wallace isn't worth 60 Million.

Yet, the funniest comment that Wallace made was in response to Hollinger's question asking Wallace who Wallace's favorite coaches were. Wallace's response: Rick Carlisle and Larry Brown, amongst others. It was well known in Detroit that Wallace didn't get along with either Carlisle or Brown. Basically, his relationship with those coaches was the same as his relationship with Saunders. In fact, Wallace had major issues with Carlisle because Carlisle wouldn't get Wallace involved in the offense. When told Wallace had made these comments, both Chauncey Billips and Lindsay Hunter both rolled their eyes.

It's sad that Wallace is now sniping at the team that gave him the means to become a superstar and NBA champion. Without his teammates, I firmly believe Wallace wouldn't have won 4 Defensive Player of the Year awards - the Pistons' system allowed him to be a great weakside defender while also freelancing. I thought I'd always remember Wallace for what he did for the Pistons - he made them into winners and helped bring a title to Detroit. Unfortunately, in light of this article, I'll also remember him as a selfish player who put more of an emphasis on himself than was deserved.


Post a Comment

<< Home