HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Long before someone decided to tag that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback with the same nickname, “Big” Ben Wallace was busy becoming an icon in Detroit.
One of the truly unique players of his era and really in league history — he was a four-time All-Star and a four-time Defensive Player of the Year while barely a factor on offense for much of his 15-year career — Wallace is talking about calling it quits after this season.
He didn’t say he would retire. But he did say it is one of the options that could be under consideration this summer, per my main Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News:
“That’s always been the case, the last couple of years,” said Wallace, 37. “When the season is over with, I’ll see how my body feels. See if I can get my strength back. If can help this team, maybe I’ll come back.”
Wallace is under contract through next season ($1.9 million), but with the drama — and losing — it’s not hard to envision him reconsidering.
“I’d definitely like to honor (the contract),” Wallace said. “But I have to do what’s best for me as far as my body.
“My legs are feeling good. Let me run up and down the court a little bit, see if I need to do some more work or sit my butt down.”
With a possible lockout next season, Wallace wouldn’t be surprised if he chose to walk away.
If nothing else, he feels like he’d do it on his own terms.
“There’s no use in going out there, hurting myself,” he said. “I’m not getting any younger. My hair doesn’t turn gray, it turns white (laughs).”
More than anything, however, the loss of his oldest brother, Rev. James McBride, has put things in perspective.
“It altered a lot,” Wallace said. “That’s the dude who put the ball in my hands. Losing him … it makes me look at the game and say, ‘For what?'”
He has a championship on his resume, those four All-Star team nods and four Defensive Player of the Year awards, tied with Dikembe Mutombo for the most in league history, and earned All-NBA honors five times and was the defensive anchor of one of the best defensive outfits in the league, a group that played in six straight conference finals.
His name won’t come up for years, but you have to wonder what his career will look like to the voters years from now. To go from undrafted to where Wallace was at the peak of his career is one of the league’s best underdog stories.
A Hall of Fame nod one day would just seal the deal.