Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle spoke on the phone to Ben Wallace before Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The reason for the conversation?
It was announced Sunday that Wallace will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame during a ceremony on Sept. 11. Wallace played for Carlisle when the latter coached the Detroit Pistons during the 2001-03 seasons.
“I just spoke to him earlier this afternoon and congratulated him,” Carlisle said. “I thanked him for the great two years that I had working with him.”
Chris Webber, Paul Pierce and Dallas Lincoln product Chris Bosh are the other headliners who also will be enshrined into the Hall of Fame this fall.
In his two seasons playing for Carlisle, Wallace was a two-time NBA rebounding champion, he led the league in blocked shots in 2002, and he also captured two of the four Defensive Player of the Year awards that he won during his illustrious career.
Wallace, in fact, and Dikembe Mutombo are the only players to win the prestigious NBA Defensive Player of the Year honors on four different occasions.
“It’s hard to imagine the magnitude of that accomplishment,” Carlisle said of Wallace. “He was a guy that really revolutionized the way people look at defense in this league.
“He’s a 6-7 ½ center that could guard on the ball, he was always a leading shot-blocker in the league, he had amazing tenacity, and he could change the game with his defense. Plus, he was a championship player in 2004.”
Carlisle was the NBA Coach of the Year during his first season with the Pistons. Detroit also posted back-to-back 50-32 seasons, won a pair of Central Division titles and advanced to the 2003 Eastern Conference Finals under Carlisle with Wallace patrolling the middle of the paint.
Wallace, meanwhile, was a four-time All-Star and made five all-defensive teams and five all-NBA teams.
“The other thing about Ben is there were a couple of those years when he was, I believe, the top three or four for (NBA) Most Valuable Player because of his impact on the game defensively,” Carlisle said. “But he also had an impact offensively, because he was a great rim threat, he was a great screener and he was a tremendous offensive rebounder.”
The NBA buzz: A lot of attention was all over the place heading into Sunday, which was the final day of the regular season.
Most seeds were still up for grabs, leading to a lot of focus of what was going to happen in regards to the first-round playoff matchups and play-in tournament.
“There’s always been a few surprises, it seems like, on the last night of the season,” coach Rick Carlisle said before Sunday’s game against Minnesota. “But there’s been a tremendous build up to this with a major amount of attention everywhere to what’s going on with the playoff situation, the play-in situation.
“When you look at the closeness of the standings in the East and West, the league has really succeeded in creating a major buzz here.”
After everything was said and done on this whirlwind day late Sunday night, the Mavs lost to Minnesota 136-121, Portland defeated Denver, Oklahoma City tripped up the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat New Orleans. Because of all of that, the Mavs will open the playoffs against the Clippers, Portland will face Denver, and the Lakers will be in the play-in-tournament against the Golden State Warriors.
Briefly: Remember when the Mavs defeated Golden State, 133-103 on April 27, and center Boban Marjanovic was ejected from the game after he received a Flagrant Foul Penalty 2 for inadvertently hitting Warriors guard Jordan Poole? Well, as it turned out, Marjanovic reportedly sent Poole a blanket with the words: “I’m sorry.” . .Mavs season tickets for the 2021-22 season are already being sold. For more information, go to Mavs.com/tickets. . .With forward/center Maxi Kleber sitting out Sunday’s game, he wound up missing six of the last seven games with right Achilles soreness. . .The Mavs finished the regular season with a 42-30 record and earned the Western Conference’s No. 5 seed going into the playoffs. Last year the Mavs were 43-32 and were the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The Mavs have won 12 of their last 16 games.