Former Virginia Union University men's basketball player Ben Wallace has had his #3 jersey retired by the Detroit Pistons of the National Basketball Association.
Wallace played for the Panthers from 1994-96, and still holds the school-record with 114 blocks in a single season (1995-96). He was honored on Saturday, January 16, in Detroit, Mich.
They all came back to toast Wallace. Tayshaun Prince, in the middle of his NBA season. Larry Brown, in the middle of his college season. Chauncey Billups, whose jersey goes to The Palace rafters next. Rip Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace, of course.
On PalaceVision, video tributes were offered by the likes of Kobe Bryant, Pat Riley and Gregg Popovich. Ex-teammates Jerry Stackhouse and Corliss Williamson also pitched in. Seated right behind Wallace, Wallace, Billups, Hamilton and Prince were the core of the bench that Brown used in their run to the 2004 NBA title: Lindsey Hunter, Mike James and Mehmet Okur.
"I go all over the country and I watch high school kids play and try to find somebody just like you," said Brown, now the coach at 15-0 SMU. "You broke the mold. There'll never be another like you. They said we didn't have any superstars on that 2004 team - they didn't know what they were talking about. You were the best defensive player at your size I've ever seen. There'll never be another one like you."
Pistons announcer George Blaha emceed the halftime ceremony, which concluded with Wallace unveiling his Pistons No. 3 jersey that was raised to The Palace rafters. Wallace appeared to tear up a little as Blaha recited Wallace's litany of achievement, including becoming the first undrafted player to finish his career with more than 10,000 rebounds.
"We're honoring one of the fiercest competitors to ever wear Pistons blue and one of the most popular Pistons of all time," Blaha said. "The greatest players in the world play in our league and they all learned to 'Fear the 'Fro.' "
"It means a lot, man. It means a lot," Wallace said. "Not to just be the first one out of that group, just to have your jersey retired period. To have my jersey retired, it symbolizes the hard work that I put in, the dedication I had for the game, the love I had for the game."