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Draymond Green says thank you to Ben Wallace in open letter

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Michigan native saw Ben Wallace up close and was inspired to follow in his footsteps.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Draymond Green didn't have many believers coming out of college. He was drafted 35th overall and thought to be positionless, small and not quite good enough for the best league in the world. Green, however, believed in himself because he saw a player with many of the same knocks on him become one of the best defenders of his generation -- Ben Wallace.

Wallace went undrafted out of Virginia Union University, and coaches didn't know what they had. They tried to turn him into a shooting guard, for crying out loud! But Wallace always believed in himself, put in the work, and became Big Ben, whose fro you definitely feared.

To show his appreciation, Green, now on the verge of starting an All-Star game, a perennial defensive player of the year candidate and a world champion, penned a letter to say thank you in the Detroit Free Press.

I will only excerpt a snippet, but you should jump over and read the entire piece.

Ben had an incredible work ethic. Not only did he work out extremely hard every day, but more importantly, he had the heart of a lion. It was amazing because he didn't say much, but everyone knew that he meant business.

The day came where I was able to build a relationship with Ben and, to this day, he continues to be a big brother to me. Here we are about 10 years later and a common story line has surfaced --- how am I able to do what I do while undersized, just like Ben. I refuse to be outworked and I consider myself to have the heart of a lion. As I sit now, I begin to ponder, "Why was Ben's path directed to Detroit, where I could watch every game he played?"

As an aside, Green had a promise from then-Pistons president Joe Dumars that if he was available, the Pistons would have drafted him. The Pistons picked Khris Middleton four picks after Green went off the board.

Can you imagine if the Pistons came out of the 2012 Draft with Andre Drummond and Draymond Green?