Pistons legend Ben Wallace on the worst part of retirement transition
Former NBA center Ben Wallace was one of the best big men in the league during his playing days. Whether he was rocking an afro or the cornrows, his days with the Detroit Pistons are impossible to forget. He played 16 seasons in the NBA and nine with Detroit, winning a championship in 2004 in a storied career that saw him rack up the accolades.
Four Defensive Player of the Year awards, six All-Defensive team selections, five All-NBA selections, four All-Star appearances, and the 15th-most blocks of all time (2,137). “Big Ben” was a menace inside the paint.
However, after retiring in 2012, Wallace says that he hit a low point in his life:
“When you retire, you start feeling left out,” Wallace told The Undefeated’s Greydy Diaz. “Then you start to get low, but there’s no game tomorrow to lift you up, so you just keep sinking and sinking.”
“Basketball is sort of mind-controlling,” said Wallace.
It’s not unusual for players to have trouble adjusting to a post-career life. After all, many of these players have not just been playing professional basketball since they were teenagers or young adults but have been playing the sport competitively since their childhood.
Nowadays, the players with the most experience, money, and respect find themselves on the executive side of the game; or at least they want to.
Hall of Fame point guard Magic Johnson is the president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. Two-time NBA champion Danny Ainge is the general manager and president of basketball operations for the Boston Celtics. NBA superstars LeBron James and Kevin Durant have expressed interest in owning a team after they decide to retire.
Fortunately, Wallace has found a way to stay near the game he missed himself as a part-owner of the Grand Rapids Drive (the Pistons’ NBA G-League affiliate).