The 2008 Team USA was named "The Reedem Team" because it was supposed to bring order to the basketball universe. The 2021 Hall of Fame class should be named "The Redeem Class" as it will do the same thing. If you asked basketball fans to name guys who have been snubbed from the Hall of Fame for a while now, Ben Wallace and Chris Webber would be the first players to come up. International fans and everyone from Chicago would add Toni Kukoč to that list. All three guys are finally making it to the Hall of Fame.
We're gonna get to all of the named honourees this week, as they all have tremendous stories and deserve their 5 minutes under the spotlight. But at first glance, the man of the hour has to be Ben Wallace because he has achieved something no player in the history of the has done. We all love a good rags to riches story, and Ben Wallace's photo should be in the dictionary next to that phrase. Ben Wallace will be the first member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame who went undrafted!
His college career started at Cuyahoga Community College, a junior college in Cleveland, before transferring to Virginia Union, a Division II school. Wallace signed up for the draft in 1996 and, after going undrafted, spent a short time playing in Italy. People in Viola Reggio Calabria had no idea they were watching a future Hall of Famer. They obviously didn't even think they were watching a player good enough for the Italian league because Wallace didn't make the cut.
Upon returning to the states, he got a call from Washington, where he spent three years. Wallace then got traded to Orlando, where he played all 81 games. That summer Wallace and Chucky Atkins were traded to Detroit for Grant Hill. At the time, the Magic were labeled the absolute winners of the trade. Detroit got a future 4 x Defensive player of the Year, and the rest is history.
If there was ever a guy to become the first undrafted Hall of Famer, it has to be the 6-9, 240lb center who was the best defender in a league with Shaquille O'Neal, Dwight Howard, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Yao Ming. His entire life, Ben Wallace beat the odds. No wonder he has one of the most impressive career stats ever.