Sunday, August 9, 2009

You can't live in the past

Ben Wallace is coming back to Detroit. In a deal that should be finalized this upcoming week, the Detroit Pistons will be bringing a fan favorite back in hopes of rekindling the championship vibe that they seemed to have lost these last few years.

The news of this signing leaked out late last week and immediately, the message boards went berserk. I read statements saying everything from “I hope that he doesn’t quit on us again” to “Now I can bring my Wallace jersey back out of my closet”.

The general consensus on the message boards that I read were very positive about this move. It seems that no one really wanted him to leave in the first place. I can understand that. When Wallace left after the ’05-’06 season to sign a big money deal with the Chicago Bulls, I was disappointed. I couldn’t understand why the Pistons would allow somebody that was such an important cog in the wheel of their success leave for a rival team.

Not long after that thought, I got my answer. As I was driving home from school one night, I was listening to a sports talk show on the radio and they were discussing Wallace leaving for Chicago. One of the hosts made an interesting point. He wondered if the Pistons had gotten all they could from Wallace.

That question got me thinking. Maybe they had gotten the best out of Wallace. I knew that he was a virtual unknown when the Pistons got him from the Orlando Magic in 2000 as part of the Grant Hill trade. During Wallace’s pre-Detroit days, he was just a typical player, averaging 5.75 rebounds per game. However, as a Piston, Wallace became a defensive force, averaging almost 13 rebounds a game during his 6 years in Detroit.

Did the Pistons get all they could out of Ben Wallace? Were his years in Detroit the best that he had to offer?

As it turns out, yes.

Wallace only lasted a year and a half in Chicago before they traded him to Cleveland. During his time there, he was injury prone and only played in 78 games. This past off season, Cleveland sent Wallace packing to Phoenix as part of the Shaquille O’Neal trade.

Wallace was rumored to have already been considering retirement at the time of the trade, so Phoenix bought out his contract, making him a free agent (unemployed basketball player).

So why was Ben Wallace brought back to Detroit? Sentimental reasons? To make fans think that by bringing back one of their stars of the past it would miraculously turn back time and the Pistons would be championship contenders again?

To me, it was just a pathetic excuse to cling to the past. The Pistons are supposed to be in a rebuilding mode. Their window of opportunity that they had with their past teams has now closed. The signing of Wallace actually weakens their team. The roster spot that he now occupies could have been filled by somebody that can help their team out in the future.

When Joe Dumars first joined the front office of the Detroit Pistons, every personnel move that he made was the right one. Lately though, it seems like he’s hitting every button in sight, just hoping that it’s the one that will right the Pistons ship.

Unfortunately, each year the ship seems to be taking on more water. The signing of Ben Wallace may have capsized it.

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