Shaquille O’Neal was such a dominant force in the NBA, that there are rare players that can say they could contain him, or even better stop him. But Ben Wallace is on of them.
In the 2004 NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers of the Western Conference and the Detroit Pistons of the Eastern Conference, the Lakers held home court advantage. But the Pistons would split the two games in LA and hold their home court advantage in games 3 and 4.
The stage was in game 5, as the Pistons were leading 3-1 and getting ready to celebrate in the Palace of Auburn Hills. Shaq was being dominant as usually through the series averaging 26.6 ppg and 10.8 rpg. But on the other end, a specialist in his own domain was waiting for him.
Ben Wallace was never the most skilled player or the guy you would throw the ball into the post and let him create for himself. His job was solely based on getting rebounds, playing defense and being physical. And he was great at it.
But in Game 5 Big Ben showed another aspect of his game. He started aggressively on offense taking the ball in the post and finishing with elegance, even hitting a jumper. To all that he added a few of his signature monster putback dunks, a standard great performance on the boards and the defensive end as that was enough for the Pistons to finish the job easily.
Wallace finished with an amazing 18 points and 22 rebounds while shooting 8 for 13 from the floor. On the other end, Shaq had a below average game with 20 points and 8 rebounds, as Wallace completely dominated him the whole game.
Although the Lakers were the heavy favorite, the Pistons won the series four games to one to win their first title since 1990 and their fifth overall. Pistons point guard Chauncey Billups was named as the NBA Finals MVP.