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Looking at Ben Wallace’s place in history

Watching Ben Wallace perform game in and game out, it's easy to sometimes take him for granted, but at least one fan is ready to consider his accomplishments in a historical perspective. Terry Brown of BootlegSports.com writes:

Back when Wilt was racking up an unbelievable 27.2 rebounds per game and Bill Russell was averaging an equally unbelievable 22.5 rebounds per game over his career, there were no defensive specialists. In fact, there weren’t any point guards and swingmen, either.

...

Back in 1961, the average height of the NBA’s starting centers playing against Wilt and his Philadelphia Warriors was 6-foot-7 ½. The Celtics led the league that year in team rebounding at 75.1 per game and the team’s average height was 6-4 ½.

Today, the average height of an NBA starting center is 6-foot-11 ¾. The average height of an NBA player is 6-foot-7 ¼. And this is their listed heights.

Back in 1961, those centers, as a group, averaged 16.3 rebounds per game because they were playing against 6-foot-2 guards and 6-foot-5 forwards and 6-foot-7 centers. Not a single center outside of Wilt’s 7-foot-1 was taller than 6-foot-9.

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Ben can only imagine what it would be like to crash the boards against Wally Szczerbiak, Richard Jefferson, Shaun Livingston, Ira Newble, Michael Finley, Ricky Davis and teammate Richard Hamilton.

You see, all of those guys are 6-foot-7 or the average height of a 1961 NBA center. Line them up head to head, one after another, throw up 90 shots off the glass and see if Ben doesn’t come down with 27.2 rebounds per contest.

Is Ben Wallace just another good player or is he one of the all-time best? It's too early to answer that question, but it'll be hard to discount his place in history if he becomes just the second player ever (joining Dikembe Mutombo) to win the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year honors for the fourth time.

Big Ben's Ultimatum [BootlegSports]