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Pistons to retire jerseys for Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups

By
The Sports Xchange
Detroit Pistons guard Chauncey Billups has a few words for teammates as he goes through pregame practice at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia May 1, 2008. (UPI Photo/John Anderson)
Detroit Pistons guard Chauncey Billups has a few words for teammates as he goes through pregame practice at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia May 1, 2008. (UPI Photo/John Anderson) | License Photo

The Detroit Pistons announced Monday that the franchise will honor and retire jerseys for Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups.

Wallace will be honored during a halftime ceremony on Saturday, Jan. 16, when the Pistons host the Golden State Warriors at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

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Billups will be honored during a halftime ceremony on Wednesday, Feb. 10, when Detroit plays the Denver Nuggets at The Palace.

"Our franchise has an extraordinary history and it's important that we recognize the players who not only achieved great things, but also helped define what it means to be a Piston," Pistons owner Tom Gores said in a statement. "Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace are legends in Detroit and we are excited to honor their success.

"While we celebrate their individual accomplishments, it was their selflessness that helped make them so special. They showed up every day willing to work and sacrifice for the good of the team. They put winning above all else and in the process inspired a generation of Pistons fans."

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Wallace, acquired by Detroit from the Orlando Magic in 2000, spent nine seasons with the Pistons, collecting NBA Defensive Player of the Year honors four times and was named a NBA All-Star four times.

During Wallace's first stint with Detroit (2000-06), the Pistons made the playoffs in five of the seven years, winning Eastern Conference Championships in 2004 and 2005 and the NBA Championship in 2004. He is the franchise's all-time leader in regular-season and playoff blocks (1,486 and 215, respectively) and ranks first among Pistons' all-time playoff leaders in rebounds (1,237). In 655 games with the Pistons, Wallace averaged 6.6 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, 1.4 steals and 1.5 assists in 32.6 minutes per game.

"We celebrated many great accomplishments during my years in Detroit and to be recognized for my contributions in this way, I'm honored," Wallace said. "I look forward to sharing this experience with all the fans who supported me throughout my years as a Piston."

Wallace, a 6-foot-9, 240-pound center, went undrafted in the 1996 NBA Draft and spent time with Washington, Orlando, Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland. Wallace recorded 10,482 rebounds during his career. Overall, in 1,088 career NBA games, Wallace averaged 5.7 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 1.3 steals and 1.3 assists in 29.5 minutes per game.

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Acquired as a free agent in 2002, Billups' eight-year career in Detroit was highlighted by back-to-back Eastern Conference Championships and two NBA Finals appearances in 2004 and 2005. He was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player during the Pistons' NBA championship season in 2003-04 when he averaged 21.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists in five games against the Los Angeles Lakers. Billups was named an NBA All-Star three times with Detroit. In 482 games with the Pistons, Billups averaged 16.5 points, 6.2 assists and 3.2 rebounds in 31.6 minutes per game.

"It's an honor to be recognized by the Detroit Pistons organization in this manner," Billups said. "This is a franchise with great history and tradition. To be recognized amongst the all-time great players in team history is special and I look forward to celebrating the achievements, memories and great times we shared together."

Billups, a 6-3, 210-pound guard, was drafted with the third overall pick by the Boston Celtics in the 1997 draft. During his 17 seasons in the NBA, he spent time with Boston, Toronto, Denver, Minnesota, Detroit, New York and the Los Angeles Clippers, and collected five All-Star appearances. He was also awarded the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 2008, the NBA Sportsmanship Award in 2009 and the NBA Teammate of the Year Award in 2009. Overall, Billups played in 1,043 career NBA games and averaged 15.2 points, 5.4 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 1.0 steals in 31.6 minutes per game.

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