At 69, 240 lbs., the Detroit Pistons afro-sporting big man Ben Wallace looks like he should terrorizing NFL quarterbacks, rather than patrolling the paint for the best team in the NBA. Coming out of high school with a scholarship offer to play football at Auburn, that was almost the case. But for the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year (an award hes won three of the past four years,) Wallaces heart has always been on the hard-court and Piston fans are grateful.
As the anchor of a team that was originally built around a stifling defense, Wallace has lead Detroit to an NBA title, within a game of a second, and currently has the team off to the best record in the league. It also probably doesnt hurt that the Pistons have had the same starting five for the bulk of this run, or that their other four starters are all averaging over 14 points per game. But make no mistake about it, when Sundays game tips off at 3:30 p.m. at the American Airlines Arena (601 Biscayne Blvd, Miami), in what could be a preview of this years Eastern Conference Finals, the key for the Miami Heat will be minimizing Wallaces contributions. Tickets start at $10. Call 1-800-4NBA-TIX, or visit www.heat.com.
Sun., Feb. 12