Keep in mind when Zion Williamson went viral for blowing out of his shoe throughout a sport at Duke? One thing comparable occurred to Detroit Pistons nice and up to date Corridor of Fame inductee Ben Wallace, courtesy of former Los Angeles Lakers star Shaquille O’Neal.
Not too many opposing facilities welcomed the problem of guarding O’Neal on an island. Quite a few bigs welcomed no matter assist they might get. Wallace’s dedication to defend Shaq set the tone for the 2004 NBA Finals, although it got here at the price of a sneaker.
Shaquille O’Neal and the Lakers fell sufferer to an upset within the 2004 NBA Finals due to Ben Wallace and the Pistons
The 2003-04 Lakers got here with loads of star energy. Nonetheless, basketball just isn’t performed on paper, and LA ran right into a buzzsaw in a well-rounded Pistons crew.
Detroit dominated the Lakers in 5 video games, outscoring LA by 45 factors in the course of the sequence. The Pistons, which ranked second in defensive ranking that season, held Shaquille O’Neal and Co. to below 82 factors per contest.
Shaq dominated on the floor. He averaged 26.6 factors and 10.8 rebounds whereas capturing 63.1% from the sphere. Nonetheless, Wallace’s willingness to play Shaq head-on allowed his teammates to stay to their matchups.
The technique paid dividends. Whereas Shaq bought his factors, his teammates struggled. Detroit swarmed LA’s ball-handlers excessive above the three-point arc and infrequently pressured the Lakers to fireside up ill-advised makes an attempt late within the shot clock. That partially explains why Kobe Bryant needed to resort to hero ball and have become accountable for practically one-third of LA’s field-goal tries.
Moreover, Wallace by no means let Shaq give the Lakers further alternatives. He outrebounded O’Neal 68-54, clearing the boards on protection and carrying on O’Neal along with his relentless effort on the offensive glass. The toll Wallace took on Shaq turned clearer in Recreation 5, when the Pistons heart scored 18 factors and pulled down 22 rebounds, 10 of which got here on the offensive glass.
Large Ben gave his all to O’Neal. A lot in order that he wanted a model new pair of AND1 sneakers.
Wallace busted out of his shoe making an attempt to protect Shaq
Former Pistons head coach Larry Brown needed to double Shaquille O’Neal as Detroit made its preparations for the Lakers. Wallace refused. He paid the value, at the least in shoe forex.
“Ben was preventing so arduous that he blew by his shoe, making an attempt to withstand — actually making an attempt to withstand Shaq backing down. It was the craziest factor. He really blew by his shoe.”
–Chauncey Billups, through ESPN
By way of bodily stature, Ben Wallace hardly gave off the impression of a pushover.
Though Wallace (who stood 6-foot-9) lacked the usual top of many facilities all through the league, he weighed 240 kilos. The four-time All-Star had the energy and dedication to carry his personal with most opposing bigs. Then once more, Shaq is in a class all his personal when it comes to bodily dominance. His overwhelming energy in all probability despatched company sponsors at AND1 right into a frenzy.
O’Neal is the last word immovable object. He solely needs LA went to the properly extra typically in the course of the 2004 Finals. Bryant mentioned one thing comparable throughout a sitdown between the 2 Laker greats in 2018.
Kobe Bryant instructed O’Neal he didn’t get LA into their “automatics” quick sufficient
Kobe Bryant took the blame for the Lakers’ offensive struggles throughout a 1-on-1 “Gamers Solely” interview with Shaq.
Bryant mentioned (h/t YouTube) the Pistons protection pushed every part up and compelled LA to run their offense all 94 ft of the courtroom. Kobe added that he didn’t put guys like Gary Payton and Karl Malone in good positions to counter Detroit’s aggressive fashion.
That technique of “shifting the stress up,” as Bryant mentioned, made LA’s ball-handlers work more durable to get the ball throughout the timeline and run units, additionally forcing O’Neal to maneuver from the low block nearer to the purpose or the free-throw line, the place he’s much less efficient.
O’Neal invoked his well-known “barbecue hen” catchphrase when referring to Wallace’s protection, however the actuality is that Large Ben’s possession of the matchup and his unyielding effort performed an enormous function in giving LA issues and making the Pistons profitable.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.
https://www.sportscasting.com/shaquille-oneal-generational-strength-ben-wallace-busting-out-shoe-2004-nba-finals/ | Shaquille O’Neal’s Generational Energy Resulted in Ben Wallace Busting Out of His Shoe Through the 2004 NBA Finals