Big Ben to Start

Frank overrules Wallace’s preference to come off bench in finale

Ben Wallace will appear in the Pistons' starting lineup tonight in what could be his final game in the NBA.
Allen Einstein (NBAE/Getty)
It might or might not be Ben Wallace’s last game. Lawrence Frank is leaving nothing to chance: If tonight’s season finale is really the 16-year veteran’s swan song, he’ll go out as a Pistons starter.

Over his mild objections.

“He wanted to come off the bench,” Frank said, a blue headband on in honor of Big Ben after the Pistons’ final shootaround of the season Thursday morning. “But that’s a non-discussion starter. He’s starting.”

Frank briefed Wallace on his plans for him a few weeks ago. It included making him inactive for the season’s final two road games – giving Frank a chance to look at rookie Vernon Macklin as part of the rotation – and letting home fans get every last opportunity to see the anchor of the 2004 NBA champions.

“I don’t know any decisions Ben has made, but if it is by chance his last game, he deserves the opportunity,” Frank said. “And the fans – they’ve been around for the ride longer than I’ve been. Many times, if it’s not a season ticketholder, it may be their one time to see a guy give maximum effort. He honors the code of being a professional to the utmost.”

Frank said he doesn’t know – and doesn’t want to know – if Wallace’s teammates have anything up their sleeve for tonight’s game with Philadelphia.

“Some things are better left for those guys to figure out,” he said. “The best way they can honor him is by giving their best effort. Ben Wallace stands for a lot of things but every time he steps on the hardwood he gives his best effort. That’s the best way all of us can honor him for what he’s done. If you’re being truly sincere, we can do all the ceremonial stuff, but at the end of the day, give your best effort. That’s a heck of an honor.”