Weighing in at 6’9”, 240 pounds, originally in the blue corner, now in the red corner…the starting center for your Chicago Bulls: Ben Wallace!! Bulls GM John Paxton landed the upper-cut of the off-season on the jaw of “Glass Joe” Dumars, by giving Big Ben 60 million reasons to leave Motown and join him in Chicago. This marks the return to the Pistons/Bulls rivalry that we have not seen since the Jordan vs. the Bad Boys days of the late 80s and early 90s.
“Ladies and Gentlemen!” “Let’s get ready to rumble!” Mark your calendars now. The Pistons and the Bulls will play at Chicago on Saturday, January 6, 2007 and then at Detroit on ABC on Sunday, February 25, 2007. This could be a $50 pay-per-view event and still get good ratings. Take a look at the match-up for 2006-07 and you will find not only a shot-blocker with a great afro, but add to him a Chicago Bulls team that has led the entire league in field goal percentage defense for two consecutive seasons. Yes, those two seasons have ended in round one playoff series exits, but you get the feeling that this is the season they go one step further. They had the eventual NBA champion Miami Heat on the ropes in round one last season and all they lacked was someone in the middle, someone like Ben Wallace.
Expectations for this season are high, but rightfully so. The only reason they finished 41-41 last year was because they got of to a “Rocky” start. With the addition of Wallace, P.J. Brown, and “Adrian!” Griffin, they have added bulk to their frontline to go with what some are calling the fastest 1-2 punch in the league in Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon. Yes, the same Ben Gordon that tied the NBA record last season by going 9-for-9 in one game from three-point range. With this kind of offensive firepower and an outstanding defense, the Bulls will give many teams a 10-count on their way to first-round home court advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs. This will be the edge they need to make their way into the second round in 2007.