Shaquille O’Neal’s strength and size was a menace during his decade in the NBA. He had numerous dunks, blocks and rebounds that left most players with no chance of stopping him even if they were bigger than him. Ben Wallace is one such player who found himself on the wrong end of Shaq’s dominance when he busted out of his shoe against Boston at the 2004 NBA Finals; however, despite this loss for Detroit, it helped them win their first championship ever two years later.
Shaquille O’Neal’s generational strength resulted in the best defensive player of all time, Ben Wallace, busting out his shoe during a 2004 NBA Finals game.When the Miami Heat came into their locker room after winning Game 3 of the NBA Finals 2004, they found a surprise waiting for them. A shoe with Ben Wallace’s face on it was sitting in front of O’Neal’s locker. The sneaker had been given to Mr. Big Shot by his friends and family during dinner earlier that night at home when he had mentioned how Shaq needed some help busting out of his shoes-hence why this one got put there instead of where it rightfully belonged next to O’Neal’s door.The “ben wallace hall of fame” is a result of the generational strength that Shaquille O’Neal brought to the game. He was able to bust out of his shoe during the 2004 NBA Finals, which would lead to Ben Wallace becoming an all-star player.
Remember when Zion Williamson’s sneaker blew out during a Duke game and went viral? Former Los Angeles Lakers player Shaquille O’Neal did something similar to Detroit Pistons legend and recent Hall of Fame member Ben Wallace.
The prospect of defending O’Neal on an island did not appeal to many opposition centers. Several bigs were grateful for whatever assistance they could receive. Wallace’s unwavering commitment to defending Shaq set the tone for the 2004 NBA Finals, even if it cost him a shoe.
In the 2004 NBA Finals, Shaquille O’Neal and the Lakers were defeated by Ben Wallace and the Pistons.
The Lakers of 2003-04 had a lot of star power. Basketball, however, is not a game played on paper, and LA ran against a buzzsaw in the form of a well-rounded Pistons club.
In five games, the Pistons trounced the Lakers, outscoring them by 45 points. Shaquille O’Neal and his teammates were kept to under 82 points per game by the Pistons, who were rated second in defensive rating that season.
On the surface, Shaq had the upper hand. He shot 63.1 percent from the field and averaged 26.6 points and 10.8 rebounds. Wallace’s willingness to take on Shaq head-on, on the other hand, enabled his teammates to adhere to their matchups.
The plan worked really well. While Shaq was scoring, his teammates were struggling. The Pistons mobbed LA’s ball-handlers well above the three-point line, forcing the Lakers to take rash shots late in the shot clock. That helps to explain why Kobe Bryant had to turn to hero ball, accounting for over a third of Los Angeles’ field-goal attempts.
Wallace also never allowed Shaq to give the Lakers any more chances. He outrebounded O’Neal 68-54, clearing the boards on defense and wearing him down on the offensive glass with his tireless effort. Wallace’s toll on Shaq was evident in Game 5, when the Pistons big scored 18 points and grabbed 22 rebounds, including 10 on the offensive board.
Big Ben gave O’Neal his best. He was in desperate need of a new pair of AND1 shoes.
Wallace tore his sneaker off while attempting to protect Shaq.
As the Pistons prepared for the Lakers, former head coach Larry Brown planned to double Shaquille O’Neal. Wallace turned down the offer. At least in shoe money, he paid the price.
Because of how hard he fought with O’Neal in the paint, Chauncey Billups remembered (h/t ESPN) that the four-time Defensive Player of the Year needed a new pair of AND1 shoes.
“Ben was fighting so hard that he blew a hole in his sneaker, physically attempting to keep Shaq from backing down.” It was the weirdest sight I’d ever seen. He blew right through his shoe.”
–Chauncey Billups, as reported by ESPN
Ben Wallace didn’t give the image of being a pushover in terms of physical height.
Wallace (who stood 6-foot-9) did not have the typical height of many centers in the league, but he did weigh 240 pounds. With his power and drive, the four-time All-Star could hold his own against most opposing big men. Shaq, on the other hand, is in a league of his own when it comes to physical supremacy. And1’s corporate sponsors were presumably in a frenzy as a result of his tremendous influence.
O’Neal is the definition of immovability. During the 2004 Finals, he simply wished LA had gone to the well more frequently. During a 2018 sitdown between the two Laker legends, Bryant stated something similar.
Kobe Bryant admitted to O’Neal that he did not get the Los Angeles Lakers into their “automatics” quickly enough.
In the first half of Game 2 of the 2004 NBA Finals, Shaquille O’Neal and Ben Wallace compete for a rebound | Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
During a 1-on-1 “Players Only” discussion with Shaq, Kobe Bryant claimed responsibility for the Lakers’ offensive woes.
The Pistons defense, according to Bryant (via YouTube), pushed everything up and forced LA to run their offense whole 94 feet of the floor. Gary Payton and Karl Malone, according to Kobe, were not in in favorable positions to counter Detroit’s aggressive approach.
As Bryant put it, “pushing the pressure up” forced LA’s ball-handlers to work harder to get the ball across the clock and run sets, as well as forcing O’Neal to go from the low block to the point or the free-throw line, where he’s less successful.
When it came to Wallace’s defense, O’Neal used his famous “barbecue chicken” moniker, but the fact is that Big Ben’s ownership of the matchup and uncompromising effort played a huge part in causing LA issues and propelling the Pistons to victory.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
Dikembe Mutombo Responded Perfectly to Shaquille O’Neal’s Accusation of Flopping During the 2001 NBA Finals: ‘How Can I Flop With So Many Stitches in My Mouth?’
Shaquille O’Neal’s generational strength resulted in Ben Wallace bursting out of his shoe during the 2004 NBA Finals. This was a turning point for the Miami Heat, who went on to win the series over the Detroit Pistons. Reference: shaquille o’neal shoe size.
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