AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Ben Wallace understands the significance of a retired jersey and what it will mean for his legacy.
“When that jersey goes up, all fans that come to the arena look up there. … They want to know how those numbers get up there,” Wallace said. “I just feel honored and blessed to be one of those people that 20, 30 years from now, somebody’s going to come into an arena and see that jersey and be like, `Who’s that guy? What’s his story?’ I hope somebody remembers that story so they can help that fan out.”
Pistons fans certainly won’t forget Wallace any time soon, and the team will honor him by retiring his jersey Saturday night when Detroit hosts the Golden State Warriors. Chauncey Billups will have his jersey retired when the Pistons host Denver on Feb. 10.
Wallace played nine seasons with the Pistons, helping the team win the NBA title in 2004. He was one of the league’s top rebounders and won defensive player of the year honors four times in a five-year span from 2002-06.
Wallace retired after the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, when Detroit went 25-41. The Pistons haven’t made the playoffs since 2009, but Detroit (21-18) is making a bid to end that drought this season behind standout center Andre Drummond. Wallace says he still pays some attention to how his former team is doing.
“I watch basketball every now and then. … It’s still going to suck you in and make you feel like you can go out there and jump and dunk like Andre Drummond, maybe. But that ain’t going to happen,” Wallace said. “I peek at the team from time to time. I think they’re heading in the right direction right now. They’ve got a great group of young guys.”