GRAND RAPIDS DRIVE INTRODUCE DETROIT PISTONS
LEGEND BEN WALLACE AS OWNERSHIP PARTNER
GRAND RAPIDS, MI, May 16, 2018 ––The Grand Rapids Drive today introduced Detroit Pistons’ legend Ben Wallace as an ownership partner of the team during a news conference at the Salvation Army Kroc Center. Wallace, one of the greatest defensive players in NBA history, won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award four times in nine seasons with the Pistons (2000–2006; 2009–2012). Wallace made back-to-back NBA Finals appearances (2004 and 2005) and won the NBA Championship with Detroit in 2004.
Grand Rapids Drive owner/president Steve Jbara views Wallace’s ownership participation with the Drive as a huge positive for the franchise given the former players NBA experience, unique perspective and understanding of pro basketball.
“Ben will be an incredible partner for our organization,” Jbara said. “He brings a wealth of NBA experience to our organization along with a fiercely competitive mindset that will add a spark to our team. His credibility in the basketball world will be a huge asset to our business operations.”
The Detroit Pistons, who manage basketball operations of the Grand Rapids Drive as part of the single-affiliation “hybrid” partnership, view the announcement as a positive for the Drive franchise.
“We join Steve Jbara in welcoming Ben Wallace’s ownership participation with the Grand Rapids Drive,” said Arn Tellem, Vice Chairman for the Detroit Pistons. “Ben’s accomplishments and history with the Detroit Pistons organization are well known, and working with Steve, he will have a great opportunity to learn the business of basketball and promote the Grand Rapids Drive brand.”
A native of White Hall, Alabama, Wallace’s unlikely route to basketball stardom began with two seasons at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, OH and progressed to Virginia Union. He went undrafted in the 1996 NBA draft and played a short stint professionally in Italy. Wallace was signed later that year by the Washington Wizards (then the Bullets) and was part of a multi-player trade to Orlando in 1999. In 2000, he was again part of a multi-player trade with the Pistons, where he endeared himself to the fans and became an instant fan favorite and team legend.
“I am grateful to Steve Jbara and his organization for giving me the opportunity to seek a new career back in basketball. I am thrilled to be an ownership partner in the Grand Rapids Drive,” Wallace said. “It’s fun to see how the G League has grown and I’m excited to be a part of its upside and continued development. Basketball has been a very important part of my life and I am looking forward to this new chapter.”
Wallace retired from the NBA after his final season with the Pistons in 2012. The club retired his No. 3 jersey in 2016.
About the Drive:
The Grand Rapids Drive, owned by SSJ Group, LLC, is the proud NBA G League Affiliate of the Detroit Pistons. The team’s inaugural season of play was the NBA D-League’s 2014-2015 season. The organization’s mission is to provide affordable, family-friendly entertainment and an elite level of basketball to the West Michigan community. The team is committed to giving back to the community through various programs and fundraisers. For more information about the organization, go to www.nbagrandrapids.com and follow the team on Twitter and Instagram at @grdrive and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GrandRapidsDrive. GO DRIVE!
About the NBA G League
The NBA G League is the NBA’s official minor league, preparing players, coaches, officials, trainers, and front-office staff for the NBA while acting as the league’s research and development laboratory. Featuring 26 teams, all singly affiliated with an NBA franchise, the league offers elite professional basketball at an affordable price in a fun, family-friendly atmosphere. An all-time high 38 percent of all NBA players at the start of the 2017-18 season had NBA G League experience.