Artest Second to Wallace for Defensive Honor

by Conrad Brunner

April 23, 2003

New York, April 23, 2003 - Ben Wallace of the Detroit Pistons was named the 2002-03 Defensive Player of the Year, marking the second consecutive season he has earned the award, the NBA announced today.

Wallace, a 6-foot-9, 240-pound forward, became the sixth player in NBA history to win the award in back-to-back seasons as he recorded a league-leading 15.4 rebounds, the highest regular season average since Dennis Rodman’s 16.1 rpg in 1996-97, 3.15 blocks (second in the NBA) and 1.42 steals per game. Wallace joins Sidney Moncrief (1982-83 – 1983-84), Rodman (1989-90 – 1990-91), Hakeem Olajuwon (1992-93 – 1993-94), Dikembe Mutombo (1996-97 – 1997-98) and Alonzo Mourning (1998-99 – 1999-2000) as the league’s only back-to-back defensive players of the year.

Wallace, who became the first undrafted player in NBA history to be voted a starter in the NBA All-Star Game, led the NBA in total rebounds (1072) and offensive rebounds (239), finished second with 833 defensive rebounds, and third with 230 total blocks.

Wallace received 531 points (out of a possible 585 maximum points), including 100 of 117 possible first-place votes, from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote received.

Wallace will be presented with his award before tonight’s Game 2 of the Pistons-Magic first-round playoff series by Basketball Hall of Famer and former Piston Bob Lanier. This year Wallace became the first Piston since Lanier (1973-74) to record at least 1,000 rebounds and 200 blocks in consecutive seasons.

Pacers forward Ron Artest finished second in the balloting with 122 overall points and two first-place votes. Others receving first-place votes included Kevin Garnett of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs and Doug Christie of the Sacramento Kings.

Wallace, who had season-highs of 24 rebounds (twice) and 10 blocks, helped lead the Pistons to their second consecutive Central Division title, second straight 50-win season, and the team’s first Eastern Conference number one seed since their 1989-90 NBA Championship season. This season the Pistons held their opponents to just 87.7 ppg, ranking first in the NBA, as they held teams under 80 points 17 times and under 70 points five times.

Wallace’s standout season also saw him become the first player to pull down 20 or more rebounds in five consecutive games (March 12-20) since Dennis Rodman had a seven-game 20+ rebounding streak during the 1997-98 season with Chicago.

Wallace, a seven-year NBA veteran who went undrafted out of Virginia Union ’96, also averaged 6.9 ppg on .481 (210-437 FGA) in 73 games (all starts).