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June 5, 2004

Ben Wallace


Q. Can you relive your first meeting with Oakley (Charles) at that summer camp way back when, and I think you guys had some elbow battle going on when you played one-on-one, just what he's meant to your career, from helping you get to college to how you play now?

BEN WALLACE: You know, Oak helped me a lot in my career. Oak helped me to get situations and to find a college. He's always been a real person that I could turn and talk to whenever things wasn't going well for me. You know, he helped me along, you know, through my career, as well as growing up and becoming a man. He was always there for me to lend a helping hand. He was a familiar voice for me to talk to whenever I needed.

Q. Did he tell you something along the lines to forget about the stuff that comes along with being an NBA player and just concentrate on the game?

BEN WALLACE: He told me, this game, will bring a lot of things with it, but just remember who you are and never change that, regardless of the situation and you'll always be all right.

Q. Any details from that summer camp when you played one-on-one, the battle that you had?

BEN WALLACE: Well, you know, it was a grueling battle. I was a young, cocky guy. He was an older, cocky guy. Once you add those two things together, it makes for an exciting battle. We went out there and played each other one-on-one, a little blood was shed, but it was all good.

Q. I see you have the cornrows on today. Now, when you got that 'fro in full bloom, it seems like you have some aerodynamic drag in transition. Are you faster when you wear the cornrows than when you are when you have that big 'fro?

BEN WALLACE: You know, I don't think so. I think when I have got the 'fro, the wind sort of flows through it a little bit through, it makes me a little lighter on my feet so maybe I'm faster with the 'fro. (Laughter).

Q. How do you defend Shaq?

BEN WALLACE: Well, you know, you've just got to put the bite on him. You've just got to let him know that you're there. You can't play him one way or this way. You've just got to go out there and give it all you've got. You can't afford to just let him walk on the floor, catch the ball where he wants to catch it at. Everybody knows that anybody this league, if he's able to catch the ball where he wants to catch it at, it's going to be tough to guard. So just, you know, when you put that to Shaq, that's twice as much trouble letting the guy catch the ball where he wants to catch it. So you have to push him out on the floor and force him to make skill plays instead of knocking the ball.

Q. How much double team and triple-teaming -- do you think you need much help with Shaq?

BEN WALLACE: Oh, do I think I need much help with Shaq? (Laughter) I think that's a question that pretty much answers itself. Anybody going at Shaq is going to need much help. You know, we're not going to really do too much, tripling- and double-teaming. We're just going to try to force him off the block and when we need to double-team him, we're going to go down and double-team him. We can't afford to triple-team and double-team Shaq and let everybody else get involved. Once they get everybody else clicking, they are pretty much unbeatable, so you can't allow to get everybody else involved in the game.

Q. The fact that they are more of a halfcourt team, as opposed to a real up-and-down team on the floor, like a Sacramento, does that help you at least get some rest and conserve some energy or is there a trade-off by what you have to do to play halfcourt?

BEN WALLACE: I think that's one thing we want to do is to get them to settle down on the halfcourt. I think that's when our defense is its best, when we can force a team to play halfcourt basketball. By them being a halfcourt team, I think that plays to the strength of our defense.

Q. What have you seen in these playoffs so far that other teams have done and as far as how to and how not to defend Shaquille? Have you seen any one kind of defensive alignment, a set-up that you feel like it's worked better than others?

BEN WALLACE: No. (Laughter) I mean, when it comes to Shaq, you know, different strokes for different folks. You've just got to go out there and play the game and get a feel for how the game is being played, how the game is being called. You know, I think every night, he brings something different to the table. Some nights, you know, he's clicking on his turnaround jumper, and some nights he's just over powering guys and just getting to the basket. So it just depends on how the game is being called or how it's being played.

Q. Joe Dumars brought you into Detroit and built this team to what it is right now. Can you just talk about Joe Dumars, how he's run this organization and he's affected you personally, you and your game?

BEN WALLACE: Joe Dumars did a lot for this organization. When he took over, you know, I think the first year he took over, he brought in a couple of guys. We wasn't that good, just bottom line. He came to us after the season and made a promise, he said, you know that, we was going to be in the playoffs the next season. The next season, you know, we made it to the playoffs. Every year, he came to us after the season and said that we was looking to go a little farther next year; he was going to do whatever it took to get guys in here that want to play, that want to win; that's dedicated to winning. Having this team reach its ultimate goal. Every year, he done that. So what he's done for this organization, and this team, you know, it's tough to put in words because I'm pretty sure, it meant so much to him to see this team make it to the Finals; it's not many people that get a chance to play in and win a championship and then put together a championship team. So he did that. I hope he realizes that he reached a milestone in his career.

Q. Joe Dumars said he's trying to make a point not to talk about the Bad Boys' experience and the championships, but still, is there some knowledge to be gleaned of what they have gone through to help you guys with this series?

BEN WALLACE: You know, not really. You know, I think the way they want -- the way they won it and the way they did it was the way they had to do it. We've got to find our own way. We can't look back on what they went through or how they managed to win or how they managed to pull it off. We've got to go out there and play basketball and find our own way. I think that's one of the reasons he doesn't do a whole lot of talking about how they had to do it. It's just like, you know, raising your kids. Sometimes you've got to send them out and let them find their own way.

End of FastScripts...

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