Pistons to retire numbers for Ben Wallace, Billups

Terry Foster
The Detroit News

Auburn Hills — Pistons forward Marcus Morris applauded the move to honor the 2004 Pistons by retiring the numbers of Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace. He will be honored to watch banners raised that will show Billups’ No. 1 number one and the No. 3 that was worn by Wallace.

The team plans to retire the numbers during a yet-to-be-specified ceremony at The Palace this season. It was supposed to happen last season, but scheduling could not be finalized.

“I definitely think they should be honored,” Morris said. “Every time you step on the court they should have something to show what Detroit basketball is all about. Those guys did a great job of representing Detroit.”

Morris said this is what the current Pistons aspire to be.

The Pistons made six straight Eastern Conference finals and won a championship in 2004. Wallace was the emotional and strong leader who rebounded, blocked shots and played the type of defense not seen around here since Dennis Rodman.

Billups played the role as floor general and attempted to take the leadership role when Wallace signed a free-agent contract with the Chicago Bulls. The group wants to see a third number retired. Richard “Rip” Hamilton, who wore No. 32, was the third main cog who is now retired and was part of the ride much of the way.

For now it is just Billups and Wallace.

Billups retired following the 2013-2014 season, but he was mostly injured that season. Wallace retired in 2012 after his second stint in Detroit.

There is one problem. Current Pistons occupy those numbers. Reggie Jackson wears No. 1 and rookie Stanley Johnson has No. 3. But the two could continue to wear the numbers until they retire. Dennis Rodman’s number 10 was retired but Greg Monroe was allowed to wear it until he left as a free agent after last season.

“We do have something coming up,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said. “I am sure we have something to announce soon.”

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said he admired the toughness and competitiveness of the group. And Steve Blake said playing against them was often a nightmare.

“I hated playing against them because they were so good,” Blake said. “They knew they had a chance to win a championship a lot of those years they were together. I don’t know if they are going to do something for them or not but as a player I really respected them.”

What did Blake have to worry about when he played the 2004 Pistons?

“What didn’t you have to worry about,” he said. “They complemented each other so well. Chauncey was one of those guys who ran the team so well.”