The Pistons plan to honor two of their fan favorites in separate jersey-retirement ceremonies in January and February.
Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups, two of the anchors of the 2004 NBA championship team, will have their numbers retired and jerseys lifted to the rafters at The Palace. Wallace’s No. 3 jersey will go up on Jan. 16 against the defending-champion Golden State Warriors and Billups’ No. 1 will be honored on Feb. 10 against one of his former teams, the Denver Nuggets.
“Our franchise has an extraordinary history and it’s important that we recognize the players who not only achieved great things, but also helped define what it means to be a Piston,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said in a released statement. “Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace are legends in Detroit and we are excited to honor their success.”
Wallace, an undersized 6-foot-9 center, was with the Pistons for nine seasons, after being acquired from the Orlando Magic in the sign-and-trade deal for Grant Hill. Wallace was a four-time All-Star and four-time defensive player of the year.
“We celebrated many great accomplishments during my years in Detroit and to be recognized for my contributions in this way, I’m honored,” Wallace said. “I look forward to sharing this experience with all the fans who supported me throughout my years as a Piston.”
Billups spent eight seasons with the Pistons, after signing as a free agent in 2002. He was the MVP in the championship season in 2004, posting 21 points, 3.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists in the five-game series win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
A three-time All-Star guard, Billups — dubbed “Mr. Big Shot” for his ability make clutch shots — averaged 16.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists in his career.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by the Detroit Pistons organization in this manner,” Billups said. “This is a franchise with great history and tradition. To be recognized amongst the all-time great players in team history is special and I look forward to celebrating the achievements, memories and great times we shared together.”
Current Pistons Reggie Jackson (No. 1) and rookie Stanley Johnson (No. 3) currently wear the numbers, but have said they’d consult with Wallace and Billups about continuing to don the jersey numbers as long as they are with the team.