Ahead of Sunday’s official announcement, two names of the 2021 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class have been reported: Ben Wallace and Paul Pierce.
It’s a well-deserved honor for both men who were crucial pieces of championships teams in the 2000s. Wallace, 46, was a four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and a key component to the Pistons’ 2004 NBA Finals victory over the Lakers. The four-time All-Star was best known for his stint in Detroit where his No. 3 jersey hangs retired in the rafters.
Wallace was a standout at Virginia Union in the mid-1990s before going undrafted and signing with the then-Washington Bullets. While he had stops with the Bullets/Wizards, Magic, Cavaliers, and Bulls, Wallace spent nine of his 16 NBA seasons with the Pistons.
As for Pierce, he was a 19-year NBA veteran best known for his successful stint as a member of the Celtics. After his junior season at the University of Kansas, Pierce was drafted 10th overall by the Celtics in 1998 and quickly emerged as one of the NBA’s brightest young stars. Pierce’s early success led to Shaquille O’Neal dubbing him as “The Truth,” a moniker he carries to this day.
Pierce made his first NBA All-Star team in his fourth NBA season and would go on to be a 10-time All-Star. He helped lead the Celtics to a 2008 NBA championship alongside fellow stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Boston made another NBA Finals with Pierce in 2010 but lost to the Lakers in seven games.
Pierce’s 15-year run in Boston ended with a high-profile trade to the Nets in 2013, which has become infamous for Brooklyn’s massive overpay for just one disappointing season with Pierce and Garnett. Pierce finished his career with stops in Washington and Los Angeles before retiring following the 2016/17 campaign.
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