Ben Wallace is perhaps the greatest underdog story in NBA history. It’s fitting then that the makes his return to professional basketball as a part owner of a minor league team full of scrappy underdogs looking for their chance to play in the show.
The Grand Rapids Drive officially announced Wallace as part owner of the minor league affiliate of the Detroit Pistons where Wallace won a title and established himself as a superstar.
When news of an official union between Wallace and the Drive emerged earlier this year Wallace said it was a natural partnership.
“It was just the right fit,” Wallace said in an interview with MLive before Thursday’s game at the DeltaPlex. “It’s an opportunity for me to get back in basketball. It’s an opportunity for me to learn the business side of basketball, something I’ve wanted to do. And this gives me an opportunity to ease into it and learn as we go.”
Wallace said he is looking forward to using the opportunity to learn more about the business of basketball as well as using it as a chance to help the Drive and the G-League continue to grow.
“I am grateful to Steve Jbara and his organization for giving me the opportunity to seek a new career back in basketball. I am thrilled to be an ownership partner in the Grand Rapids Drive,” Wallace said in an official release. “It’s fun to see how the G League has grown and I’m excited to be a part of its upside and continued development. Basketball has been a very important part of my life and I am looking forward to this new chapter.”
After spending time at small schools Cuyahoga Community College and Virginia Union, Wallace went undrafted in 1996. After arriving in Detroit in the Grant Hill trade Wallace established himself as one of the most fearsome defenders of his generation.
“I went through it, and most players coming out a college aren’t going to directly get a shot at the NBA. The G League provides them with a platform to keep that dream,” Wallace told MLive in March. “It’ a place where they can come and hone their skills. Given what I went through that’s what really intrigued me. It’s about keeping dreams alive.”
He was a four-time defensive player of the year, four-time All-Star and won an NBA championship in 2004. He retired in 2012 after a brief stint with the Pistons to close out what should be a Hall of Fame career.