Skip to main content

How weight lifting became an important aspect of Ben Wallace's success in the NBA: "I looked out there and he had every weight that he could find on the bar"

Years before playing in his first NBA game, Ben Wallace made his presence felt in the weight room where his former coach and teammates were able to witness firsthand his desire to be the best
How weight lifting became an important aspect of Ben Wallace's success in the NBA: "I looked out there and he had every weight that he could find on the bar"

Wallace knew he was undersized, so early in his college career, he worked on getting his body in top physical form by spending most of his time in the weight room

Ben Wallace is considered one of the best defensive players of all time, and rightfully so. Big Ben made a name for himself by playing tenacious defense and using all the tools at his disposal to outhustle and outplay the opposing big men. Standing at barely 6"8", Wallace was undersized against other power forwards or centers he had to go up against in his career. However, he still played like he was the physically most imposing player on the court because, the majority of times, he was. 

Looking back at his career, Wallace was never super polished, and offense wasn't the most vital aspect of what made him a HOF player. Wallace knew he was undersized, so early in his college career, he worked on getting his body in top physical form by spending most of his time in the weight room.

He lifted religiously

After getting an opportunity to play for Virginia Union, an NCAA Division II school, you know Wallace wasn't wasting any opportunities to become the best version of himself. His coach at the time, Dave Robbins, said he had never seen someone so dedicated to weight lifting and having his body prepared for any type of physical challenge. Robbins witnessed Wallace lifting the bars with all the weights available, which was unheard of for a basketball player on his team and any he had seen in his coaching career.   

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

"He lifted religiously. He would work outside of my office on an old set of weights that we had, and he'd lift everything you could put on them. Many times a day, I looked out there, and he had every weight that he could find on the bar. Just lifting, and pumping it, and pushing it, and I'm asking him, Do you need a spotter? And if he did, I would've had to go and get a forklift."

Wallace would work out at 3 am

The weight room at Virginia Unio was called The Cage because a chain-link fence surrounded it, so it got that name as it made the most sense. Wallace's teammate Maurice Greene remembers seeing him going to the Cage at 3 am to get a workout and use that time to get better. He wasn't the most friendly guy out there because it was evident Wallace had higher aspirations and focus, and his work ethic was unmatched. 

"I'd see him go there at 3 am in the morning. We might go out and hang out, but no matter what he did, his night would end in the Cage. No matter what."

Even though he was undrafted hard work paid off for Wallace, who soon became a household name in the NBA, especially during his time with the Detroit Pistons. Wallace won the NBA Finals with them in 2004 and led the way for the Pistons to be a consistent playoff team known for playing incredible defense. Since Wallace was an avid fan of weight lifting, he even made it obligatory for his teammates to do it at least twice a week. 

Wallace knew better than anyone that talent can only take you so far while getting your body in top physical shape can be beneficial, especially when you are having a long season with a deep playoff run. Even though he was often several inches undersized in comparison with other centers, that didn't mean much because Wallace would more often than not overshadow them with his appearance and performance.

Utah Jazz guard John Stockton and Earl Watson

”He got real chest hair coming out of his jersey” — Earl Watson recalls when John Stockton took him to school

Earl Watson came up with a counter against John Stockton's tendencies. Little did he know that the Utah Jazz had one move to counter his counter.

Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone and Phoenix Suns forward Charles Barkley

“I have Charles Barkley’s attitude, and my inside game is as powerful as his and Karl Malone’s” — when an NBA rookie boasted about his game

In 1993, Rodney Rogers generated quite a buzz when he claimed that he was a better version of Charles Barkley and Karl Malone.

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul and center DeAndre Ayton

“A lot of times guys don’t accept that very well” — Antonio Daniels defends Chris Paul from fans and players criticizing his leadership

Antonio Daniels admires it, Kenyon Martin not so much - Chris Paul's controversial leadership style isn't for everyone.

Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh, Lebron James and guard Dwyane Wade

“We knew that some of the hate was because of our skin color” — Dwyane Wade says the hatred for the Heatles was racially motivated

Wade compared their treatment to Larry Bird's Big 3 in Boston, Michael Jordan's in Chicago and Magic Johnson's in Los Angeles.

Nick-Wright-Draymond-Green

”Draymond has become what he most despises — just giving takes for the sake of takes.” — Nick Wright exposes Draymond Green’s hypocrisy

We'll see if Draymond has the courage to respond to this, but one thing's for sure, he took the L for this one.