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Ben Wallace, Hall of Famer?

As part of ESPN’s 5-on-5 yesterday, we were asked whether Ben Wallace is a Hall of Famer. Surprisingly, the answers were mostly positive:

Danny Chau, Hardwood Paroxysm: Fact, though it’s close. In Detroit’s contending years, the team was built around Wallace, which seems ridiculous considering he’s averaged fewer than 6 points per game in his career. He doesn’t have the gaudy stats to back up his brilliance, but the influence he had on the league defensively will surely be remembered and celebrated.

Dan Feldman, Piston Powered: I’ve given up predicting what John Hollinger calls the "College Coaches Hall of Fame" will do. But should Wallace be? Absolutely. He’s one of the greatest defenders of all time, and he was a good offensive player, too. (Offense is more than shooting.) Now that Dennis Rodman is in the Hall, Wallace might be the most underrated player ever.

Zach Harper, Daily Dime Live: Fiction. Ben Wallace had a good run for half a decade, but there should be stricter criteria to get into the Hall of Fame than just five good seasons. A couple of those DPOY awards were bogus. Some will compare him to Dennis Rodman, but I don’t see how a few good seasons and distinctive hair is enough.

John Krolik, Cavs: The Blog: Yes. Best player on a championship team and best defender and rebounder of his era. That should be enough to get you to Springfield.

Chris Palmer, ESPN The Magazine: Fact. Defensive Player of the Year four times. End of story.

30 Comments

  • Feb 15, 201212:08 pm
    by Birdman84

    Reply

    What is Harper’s problem? I’d love to know which two of the DPOY awards he thinks should go to someone else.

    Feldman, good point that offense is more than scoring. Unfortunately, not enough people recognize that. By any measure other than points scored, Ben Wallace was one of the best players of the decade.

    • Feb 15, 20122:58 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Harper has one really solid point. And that is that Ben Wallace had a few really great years, but a lot of mediocre ones around them. I don’t know how he came to the number five, I’d say six or seven with 3 or 4 more decent seasons. But a typical HOFer is absolutely brilliant for at least 8-10 years with usually a couple more fairly strong seasons as well. I don’t care that Wallace’s prime wasn’t putting up huge stats (outside of rebounds and blocks), but the fact that his prime lacked the longevity of many other great players is surely a fair knock on him.

    • Feb 15, 20124:02 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      But yeah, I hate it when people say Wallace was an offensive liability. He obviously wasn’t a great offensive player. But he was more than solid. He had the power and explosiveness to punish defenders who cheated of of him, the court awareness and vision to make good passes, and the superb offensive rebounding to give the Pistons extra possessions in lowing scoring games for which every possession could potentially be huge.

  • Feb 15, 201212:38 pm
    by JT's Hoops Blog

    Reply

    Hell No!!! I hope not.  Ben Wallace is probably is one of the most inflated and overrated role players in NBA History.  If they anoint him in the Hall, the folks who evaluate who belongs and who does not will have really dropped their standards.

  • Feb 15, 201212:48 pm
    by Jacob

    Reply

    Yeah he’s a Hall of Famer – no question about it. I just hope the voters have watched the games. His rebounding, blocked shots, steals numbers jump off the page but what you can’t see from looking at stats is that Ben Wallace could completely dominate the game without shooting the ball. It’s a common thought that the ’04 Pistons won the title without a superstar. They did have a superstar – Ben Wallace. He was just an unorthodox superstar.

  • Feb 15, 20121:06 pm
    by Coach_Ackley

    Reply

    Zach Harper and JT’s Hoops Blog are both clueless.. How in the HELL do you not make Big Ben a Hall Of Famer… They must not have watched him when the Pistons were at their best…..

    • Feb 15, 20123:06 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      The problem is that when the Pistons were at their best didn’t last all that long. If Wallace could have strung together 10 seasons at the top of his game, this should be a no-brainer. As things currently stand, it’s a much tougher call.

      • Feb 15, 20123:20 pm
        by frankie d

        Reply

        what are you talking about?
        from the season that carlisle took over the team, the pistons became a real force in the conference, and wallace was at the center of that move. wallace had 5 dominant seasons. there are lots of HOF players who cannot come close to that kind of resume.
        lots of guys -chris mullin? – who are in the hall, had good years, maybe one or two dominant ones – if that! – interspersed with a few mediocre ones, and no titles and they are there.
        how many guys have a resume where they were recognized as the best guy in their area for 4 years ? and he probably should have won it 5 straight. he just happened to lead his team to a title that one year he didn’t win it.

        • Feb 15, 20123:46 pm
          by tarsier

          Reply

          I think Wallace had 6 fantastic years. But there are not “lots of guys” who didn’t. Well, there are, but they aren’t in for their NBA careers, they are in for something else like international or NCAA careers or cultural impact or whatever (like the first black guys in the league). You had one example, Chris Mullin. If you can give me 10 examples  of guys with 6 or fewer great seasons who are in for their NBA careers, I’ll concede the point to you. And Mikan doesn’t count because NBA careers were so much shorter int eh first couple years and he was far and away the best player in the league back then.

        • Feb 15, 20124:19 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          @frankie/tarsier:

          Remember, Mullin is in for his college career too. His pro career wasn’t what anyone would call dominant, but dude was a NY legend and big time college player.

          • Feb 15, 20125:22 pm
            by tarsier

            Well there you go, frankie, thus far you have zero examples.

          • Feb 16, 20128:14 pm
            by frankie d

            @

          • Feb 16, 20128:17 pm
            by frankie d

            weird, my post got deleted.  except for the symbol.
            i simply posted taht i was in favor of more players not fewer being admitted.  and players like artis gilmore, robert parrish, james worthy, gus johnson, dennis johnson and others could not stand up to the strict scrutiny you want to apply to ben.
            the more the merrier, as far as i’m concerned.

      • Feb 16, 20127:41 pm
        by Coach_Ackley

        Reply

        @tarsier. Look at what Patrick just posted about Mullin nuff said… I think scoring is overrated in the NBA cuz that’s all players nowadays wanna do is score and not play D but if you look at Big Bens defensive stats yeah he should get in.. Name one person who has played D better than Big Ben since he became a Piston let alone who could guard Shaq 1 on 1 like big ben did when he was a defensive PIMP………..
         

  • Feb 15, 20123:07 pm
    by frankie d

    Reply

    feldman is 100% correct.
    it’s a no-brainer.
    as noted, he was the best player on a title team, and he was the dominant player at his position for a number of years, and he won 4 straight DPOY awards.  
    end of story.
    last night’s game was a flashback to pistons’ games back in their title run, when ben would blow games open with his defense, rebounding and overall play. 
    what i always laugh about is this…
    everybody knows that great defense is what wins titles.
    guys who win scoring titles routinely do not win titles.
    however, when it comes to ranking players, lots of guys who are supposed to know better – journalists like harper – downgrade the value of guys like wallace who do the things that really win titles: play great defense!
    the league has always been full of guys like….say, dominique wilkins…human hightlight reels.
    guys who never won anything, to some degree because they really, truly didn’t do the kinds of things their teams needed them to do, in order to win.
    but i’d bet that a guy like harper would have said, of course, nique is a hall of famer!  of course!
    but a guy like wallace, a guy who actually did the things you need done, in order to win?
    er…ah…no…
    at least he was in a distinct minority on that panel.

    • Feb 15, 20123:40 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Ben Wallace was arguably the best player, and arguably the 5th best player (come on, you know that’s wht those Pistons were known for–that you could seriously make a good case to rank the 5 starters in any order) on a championship team. That is considerably less than is implied when people say he was just flat out the best guy on championship team. He did not win 4 straight DPOYs, jut fyi. But the fact that they weren’t in a row does not reduce their value any. The fact that he really only had 6 absolutely excellent season does.

      ” guys who win scoring titles routinely do not win titles ”
      Incidentally, the only NBA scoring champions ever who have not won a title were George Yardley, Dave Bing, Pete Maravich, George Gervin, Adrian Dantley, Alex English, Jerry Stackhouse, Allen Iverson, and Kevin Durant. Although Durant could well become a champ yet. So if 8 guys and and 13 years of scoring leaders out of 60 is routine, then I guess you’re right. But thus far the 62 scoring leaders have gotten a combined 156 titles. So on average, the scoring leader any given year had 2.5 rings (and that’s not accounting for the possibility of more rings for Kobe, Pierce, Garnett, Wade, and Durant).

      I hope that Wallace gets in the HOF. But Pistons fans who think it should be sure thing are kidding themselves.

  • Feb 15, 20123:30 pm
    by neutes

    Reply

    The two best defensive players I’ve seen with my own eyes are Ben Wallace and Scottie Pippen. Ben had to have made one of the single biggest defensive impacts in the history of the league. He was an anchor.

    And I’m curious. How do those rebounds that Ben tips-out to guards get allocated? I’m thinking it gets credited to whoever catches the tip-out, in which case Ben is doing things he’s not even credited for. Setting screens. Just the ultimate team player, he even let everyone else score all the points. What a great guy.

  • Feb 15, 20123:35 pm
    by frankie d

    Reply

    just to edit my above post…he did not win 4 straight awards.  he won 4 out of 5 years.  my mistake.
    i do recall when he didn’t win it, however.  it seemed ironic that he did not win it in the same year his team won the title.
    hmmm….

    • Feb 15, 20123:42 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Artest was pretty great that year, though. He shut down everybody. The Pacers couldn’t handle the Pistons though, because shutting down one guy wasn’t much of a problem to them.

  • Feb 15, 20124:30 pm
    by shawn brown

    Reply

    the one thing that stood out was the gentleman that said wallace had “bogus” DPOY awards. really?   name somebody who was better and did what ben did when ben was in his prime.  also name an undrafted player who has lasted longer then ben.  i may be going out on a limb here, but i would say hes one of the greatest shot blockers of all time if not the best.   against the bucks in a game years ago he had a triple double with blocked shots!!!!!    he had an amazing run.   a hall of famer and one of the greatest pistons of all time.

    • Feb 15, 201211:50 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      far from the best shot blocker of all time. several players have posted that triple double with blocks. i believe robinson even had a quadruple double with blocks, or was it olajuwon? but ben was a very good shot blocker.

  • Feb 15, 20125:06 pm
    by Ryan P.

    Reply

    I think it’s safe to say that people who have played lots of organized bball (especially at HS and on up) know how it is playing against a player who gives you hell on the defensive end. It changes your whole gameplan and focus.  Basketball is played on both sides of the court and Ben.. all 6’8-ish of him, was pretty much the best ever for 6 to 7 years.

    And Ben made basketball relevant again in Detroit.  He point blank brought pro hoops back to the D.   And he flat out couldn’t do most things well on offense.  So what does that tell you?  That he was that special on the other side of the floor that you could win with him being your best team player.  If that isn’t hall of fame worthy then nobody knows.

    • Feb 15, 201211:53 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      “he flat out couldn’t do most things well on offense”

      come on, he couldn’t do one thing well on offense, namely shoot the j. tell me one other thing he couldnt do well. also, i find it interesting how you are trying to make a case for wallace by talking about him being offensively incompetent.  wallace was valuable on offense, his offensive rebounding may be the most overlooked part of his game, and that is one of the stronger forgotten points for his HOF candidacy,

      • Feb 16, 201211:35 am
        by D_S_V

        Reply

        Just one? How about we start with lack of a post game.

        tarsier you seem to have the amazing ability to both agree and disagree with every point made on this topic! Haha, I’m playing, mostly. The one thing you said earlier that stuck out was your ranking of the 2004 starting lineup. I’d say Ben and Chauncey were on their own tier, Rip and Sheed a second tier, and Tayshaun would never rank ahead of any of them, IMO. Agreed though, part of the fun about that team was the fact that an argument could even exist over who was the best. I’d be willing to listen to someone vouch for Rip or Sheed as the best, but I don’t think I could be convinced that either were more integral than Ben and Chauncey.

        • Feb 16, 20121:15 pm
          by tarsier

          Reply

          I could see putting Ben and Chauncey on a higher tier than Rip and Prince. BUt I would have to put Sheed up there with them. He wasn’t consistent, but when he brought it, he was certainly the best player on the team.

  • Feb 15, 20126:07 pm
    by Mark

    Reply

    That Zach Harper says “Fiction” but seems to skewing the “Facts” to make his point. “A few good years”? From 2001-2007 he was a BEAST. Thats seven years by my count, a lot more than just a few, or 5 like he’s claiming. All 6 yrs as a Piston, and the first year as a Bull ppl undervalue the impact he had on that team as well. Just like he did on the Pistons, the Bulls became the best defensive team in the league that year with his addition, won nearly 50 games for the first time Jordan, and swept the defending champion Heat in the first round.

    I think its funny that some ppl try to discredit his career because he ONLY played great during his prime, lol. Thats how ALL players are judged. You don’t judge players by how they played as a rookie or how they play after their prime when they are old and washed up. Its that 7 yr stretch in their prime, age 25-32 which you judge their career on. Yet for Ben its somehow different, smh.

    You only need to look up the all-time defensive rankings on “basketball-reference” to see his name high on every list amongst the all-time greats on just about every list.

    I ‘ve never heard of Zach Harper before, and sounds like he’s just trying to make a name for himself with this nonsense.

    • Feb 16, 201212:45 am
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Most HOF players’ primes last longer than 7 years. And most have less precipitous drops on either side of their primes. I challenged frankie d on this and he has yet to reply. Seriously, find me 10 HOF players with 7 or fewer great seasons. Not ocunting those who are in for their NCAA or international careers or cultural impact like being the first black people in the league.

    • Feb 16, 20124:59 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      And 7 is generous. Ben’s first year on the Bulls really wasn’t an elite year. He was still good, but his impact was significantly diminished from the past 6 years.

  • Feb 17, 201211:51 am
    by frankie d

    Reply

    @tarsier,
    first, i dont accept your premise.
    where does that criteria come from?
    did you pull it out of…thin air.
    this is what someone who knows about HOF criteria says:
    There are no black and white criteria,” says John Doleva, president of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “Decisions are based as much on quality as on quantity. Players aren’t voted in because they played for this many NCAA champions or participated in two NBA Finals or any set criteria.”
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?id=2394981
    quality as much as quantity.  enough said.
    the idea that someone must have more than 6 or 7 great seasons to qualify has no credence.  it is based on nothing but your opinion.  you’re welcome to that but it has no bearing as to whether a guy like ben is HOF material.
    additionally, a precedent is established when there is one example that fits.
    10?
    no.  one example, one case establishes a precedent. if i argue a case before a court, i dont need 10 or 5 or3 cases in order to establish a basis for my argument.  all i need is one case.  and there are plenty of examples.  
    there are probably 10, but i dont feel like researching it.  
    i a post above i mentioned 3 or 4 names.
    however, one doesn’t need to look too far to find a very similar case: joe dumars.   i love dumars, but his numbers are marginal.  there is also adrian dantley, artis gilmore, james worthy, bob macadoo, kevin mchale, alex english, calvin murphy, dave cowens, earl monroe…
    the list of guys who don’t fit your arbitrary, criteria is long and illustrious.
    fortunately, your criteria has been specifcally rejected by the people who count, the guys who run the HOF, as they’ve opted for a much more flexible set of criteria.

  • Mar 1, 20128:41 pm
    by Jamie

    Reply

    I really feel like ben wallace deserves to be in the hall of fame. He was a 4 or a 5 time all star, 2004 champion, a bunch of all nba defensive teams, nba leader in blocks a bunch of times, league leader in rebounds a few seasons, some DPOY awards and not to mention this guy was undrafted out of virginia union. That looks like a pretty solid career to me. He is one of the best players the pistons have had and one of the best defensive players the nba has had. Yea people are going to criticize his offense but he averaged like 3 or 4 offensive rebounds a game and thats helps out your team a lot the last time i checked. So i really cant see how he wouldnt make the hall of fame even though he didnt do much on offense but then you think of dennis rodman. The worm didnt do much on offense either but crash the glass and the thing is he never averaged no where near the blocks ben did. The only differance i see is that dennis played more than ben did throughout his carrer. Could you imagine how much better bens carrer would have been if he played more. Regardless I still feel like big ben is deserving of a trip to springfield to be inducted into the hall of fame.

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