Defense never rests for Pistons' Wallace

Marc J. Spears
Defense never rests for Pistons' Wallace
Pistons center Ben Wallace, in his 15th NBA season, is already researching law schools

Looking for an intimidating lawyer to defend you in a tough case? If you can afford to be patient, Detroit Pistons center Ben Wallace(notes) has just the guy for you: himself.

After he retires, the NBA's four-time Defensive Player of the Year plans to pursue a law degree to eventually become – what else? – a defense attorney. Wallace, 36, has discussed his ambitions with lawyers in his offseason home in Richmond, Va. He also has begun looking at prospective law schools.

"That's my ultimate goal," Wallace said. "It's always been one of my dreams. I think I can argue a pretty good case. I think I can convince a couple of people to see things my way.

"I'm very serious about it. Very."

Wallace has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Virginia Union University, where he also played Division II basketball. His dreams of becoming a lawyer were postponed by a successful NBA career that has now stretched into a 15th season. He now spends his downtime watching Court TV "all day and all night," and said the NBA's post-retirement programs are helping him prepare for law school. He also considers Richmond-based attorneys Murray J. Janus and Craig S. Cooley mentors.

"It's an admirable goal," Janus said. "…If he puts the same energy into law that he does in basketball, he will be a success. He's a very hard-working person."

Said Pistons coach John Kuester: "You can tell he has a keen sense about the law because we've discussed it a little bit. It takes a great deal of commitment and he's a committed person."

[Photos: Wallace on the court]

At 6-foot-9, 240 pounds, Wallace has long been considered one of the NBA's toughest players, and he'll undoubtedly cut an imposing figure in a courtroom. He also knows he'll likely have to upgrade his usual wardrobe (jeans and baseball caps) if he becomes a lawyer. And his signature Afro doesn't figure to make too many appearances in court.

[Related: NFL star’s career path leads to high school]

The problem? Wallace says he doesn't own a single business suit or tie, which explains why he doesn't know how to tie a tie.

"I think the last time I wore a suit was in elementary school," Wallace said. "I'm from the Dirty South. I do have a couple two-pieces, though."

Wallace won't even predict when he'll apply for law school because he keeps changing his mind about how long to extend his NBA career. He seriously considered retiring after last season, but the Pistons convinced him to sign a two-year, $4.3 million contract.

"I know my time is limited as far as being a player," he said. "That's something I've already accepted and come to peace with.

[Related: Ex-NFL QB Jake Plummer’s new calling]

"Right now, it's up in the air, man. It ain't never easy to walk away. A lot of people think the hardest thing about this game is making it into this league. As you get older and you accomplish most of your goals – all of your goals – you find out the hardest part of this game is walking away."