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Ben Wallace: Chemistry trumps talent

Terry Foster of the Detroit News recently talked to Ben Wallace about what made the 2000s Pistons so successful, and not surprisingly, Wallace pointed to the fact that all of the players knew each other’s games and got along well:

At a time like this, Wallace can’t stress enough the important of camaraderie. He remains a firm believer chemistry trumps talent.

That’s what Wallace believes propelled the Pistons to two NBA Finals appearances, one title and six consecutive trips to the Eastern Conference finals.

“We won some big games and we lost some tough games, but we knew each other,” Wallace recalled. “I was not going to say something nice about them to make myself look good. I really liked those guys.”

I don’t think Wallace’s comments to Foster were intended this way, but they aren’t a ringing endorsement of what has appeared to be a lack of chemistry all season with the Pistons.

Teams with less talent win quite often in the NBA (the 2001-02 Pistons are a great example of this), and the Pistons certainly have enough talent to win more games than they have so far. With Wallace, Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton all still on the roster, I’m not sure how long the old guard will silently suffer with the losing.

11 Comments

  • Dec 1, 201012:30 pm
    by nuetes

    Reply

    chemistry blah blah blah. whatever. the team had talent. and it had clear cut roles. and starters and reserves. and no questions asked. and defense. and rebounding. etc etc. chemistry is overrated, regardless if one of my favorite Pistons ever argues otherwise.

  • Dec 1, 201012:34 pm
    by brgulker

    Reply

    I don’t think Ben Wallace is giving himself enough credit for how incredible a player he was (and remains). He and Billups were the two edges of the sword that drove Detroit’s success, and while I don’t mean to sound arrogant, I think it was the talent of those two players that pushed Detroit over the top.
     
    Or in other words, I think “chemistry” is a byproduct of winning, not a cause.

  • Dec 1, 20101:45 pm
    by JoshB

    Reply

    I have to agree with Ben on this one, and I don’t think his intention is to belittle how good those teams were, but I think chemistry is the difference maker a lot of times. A team has to have talent, but when it faces adversity it’s chemistry that allows you to trust that guy next to you when a play has to be made. As important as Chauncey’s play on the court was, his presence in the locker room was just as important.

  • Dec 1, 20102:40 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    i’m almost entirely with nuetes on this one, but the Goin’ to Work pistons really did “lead the league in familiarity,” which i thought was a very valuable trait. but chemistry isn’t JUST a byproduct of winning (and come on, ben, i that’s kind of a crazy way to figure causation here. which came first, the chicken or the egg?), and it’s isn’t JUST a byproduct of time spent together. there are factors like compatibility and roles that are essential factors, maybe the most important factors, and we’ve got neither.
     
    and it wasn’t just chauncey and ben. they may have been leaders and co-captains; they may have been our best players. but guys like rip, tayshaun, sheed and dyess weren’t exactly “role players.” jon barry, scoreless williamson, lindsey hunter… sure. but i don’t think chauncey and body are perennial contenders with just an average supporting cast.

  • Dec 1, 20102:42 pm
    by brgulker

    Reply

    JoshB,
     
    Not to be a jerk, but how do you know that bit about the locker room? As fans, we know what happens on the floor. But unless you have some type of access the rest of us don’t, I think it’s pretty hard to say what the locker has to do with it.

  • Dec 1, 20103:15 pm
    by Rodman4Life

    Reply

    It seems also that this year’s team is breaking off into groups:  the old guard, the CV, BG, and Austin Daye group, and maybe they aren’t one cohesive group.  Last year Jerebko seemed to be an extension of Wallace, almost like he was doing what Ben would have done if he had 20 year old legs.  These separate entities move the ball well together on offense if you will notice (like Gordon and CV, Rip and Tay, etc) but outside of that, this year’s team doesn’t seem to be gelling very much.

  • Dec 1, 20103:57 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @Ben:

    Great point on how underrated Wallace and Billups were. In fact, they’re so underrated, and the chemistry of that team so overrated when discussed as a major component of their success, that it has overrated the other three starters as a result.

    Everything written about that team basically suggested that no one starter was more important than the others, when in reality, that wasn’t the case. So that minimized Wallace and Billups and their contributions and maybe over stated what Hamilton, Prince and ‘Sheed meant. Not that those guys were unimportant, but there was a definite pecking order when it came to who was most vital to that team.

     

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Detroit Pistons and PistonPowered Feed, Patrick Hayes. Patrick Hayes said: From @PistonPowered: Ben Wallace: Chemistry trumps talent http://bit.ly/dEXrTj [...]

  • Dec 1, 20105:51 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    i think there’s a bit of revisionist history going on here, guys. rip was the leading scorer, so it’s hard to avoid at least a nod. early on, sheed was a threat from everywhere, and he was always a defensive force down low. smart, passionate seven footer. 100 threes plus 100 blocks. come on. he was certainly the most talented piston, too. even if he squandered it and tarnished his legacy by becoming a deadbeat. if that team made ANYONE look better than they really were, it was ben wallace. not saying he wasn’t amazing, but without four credible offensive threats it’s not easy to win games playing offense 4-on-5. and look what happened to him once he didn’t have that team around him anymore. i know there were outside factors, like injury, but charles barkley said immediately that wallace made a mistake leaving detroit because the team covered up his flaws. and they did.
     
    not saying there wasn’t some kind of pecking order, but that was a hell of a unit. it wouldn’t have been the same without any one of them. i think rip was probably the most replaceable, but the guy was always our leading scorer, and he ran defenders ragged. that’s just so hard to ignore.

  • Dec 1, 20106:05 pm
    by JoshB

    Reply

    @brgulker
     
    I’m just going off the things I’ve read. Of course I don’t have any special access, but it’s not like there aren’t countless articles about these players, and when you see the same theme repeated you can usually believe there’s some truth to it.

  • Dec 1, 20106:54 pm
    by gmehl1977

    Reply

    Also i felt that the bench (Alternaterz) on that team was very underrated as well. Having Hunter and James come on in place of Billups and Hamilton used to put the other teams guards under enormous pressure. They would always extend leads that the starters used to put up. Know the pistons come out after halftime and give up 10 or 20 point leads in the blink of an eye. I will stop now cause i starting to get nostalgic!

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