Big Ben arrives in Chicago

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Ben has finally arrived in Chicago and at the Berto Center...

By Adam Fluck | Posted September 27, 2006

Four-time Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace made his first visit to the Berto Center in Deerfield earlier this week to get familiar with the team's practice facility and get to know a few of his new teammates.

On Wednesday, he joined them on the court.

Wallace, his wife, Chanda, and their three children (sons Ben Jr. and Bryce, and seven-week old daughter Bailey) arrived in Chicago over the weekend and are completely settled in, he said on Tuesday while shooting a commercial for TNT at the United Center. The family purchased a home earlier in the summer and spent Monday visiting the Berto Center and getting familiarized with the surrounding area.

"It's a positive environment up there, very upbeat," Wallace said of the Berto Center. "It only reinforced my excitement to be here and my excitement about the group of guys I'm going to have the opportunity to play with. Between the players, the coaching staff and the organization as a whole, I'm excited and ready to get this thing started."

Wallace spent a few minutes with Bulls general manager John Paxson talking about next week's training camp and looking forward to the upcoming campaign.

"He really just reiterated some of the things that we talked about before I signed," Wallace said. "I think we're both eager to get going and see how everything plays out."

Since signing his four-year deal with the Bulls on July 13, Wallace has spent the majority of his time at home in Richmond, Va., on his own workout schedule that included extensive weight training, running, and shooting.

He also hosted a free basketball camp there for underprivileged children, but was unable to attend it as it coincided with his signing. Wallace felt bad about missing it, so to make up for it, he set up an encore event in which all the campers gathered for a bowling tournament. There, he made a point to meet and mingle with each of the kids from the camp.

Now that he's in Chicago, he looks forward to establishing relationships with the players he'll join on the court.

"To be honest, I haven't really talked to that many of my new teammates since signing, but basketball itself makes for pretty good conversation," Wallace said. "Sometimes it's tough to talk to guys that you've never met or had an opportunity to play with, but once we get in the gym and run the floor a few times together, we'll come together."

Wallace added that he's ready to embrace a new situation that few could have foreseen at the beginning of the summer.

"It's definitely a fresh start for me," he said of coming to Chicago. "I had been in Detroit for six years, and I had the opportunity to do a lot of great things there. But coming here, I'm looking forward to new challenges to do some new things out on the court."

Declining to name specific goals, it was hard for Wallace to hide his excitement and optimism for the season.

"My expectations for the team are very high," Wallace said. "I watched the Bulls play over the last two years and I've seen the things that they were able to accomplish by coming out, working hard, and never giving up. That's what I like to see and that's the kind of basketball I play. That's why I know Chicago will be a good fit for me."

When asked about a recent story by a Sports Illustrated writer who picked the Bulls to win the NBA Championship this season, Wallace smiled. He hasn't read the article, but he's been made well aware of it.

"I think anything can happen. With a lot of hard work and a little good luck, anything is possible."

RANDOM THOUGHTS : I still can't believe he hasn't met the boys yet. I wonder how long it will take them to gel. Im really also dying to see this promotional piece on TNT. And I just started my season of NBA Live 07 using our beloved Bulls. I still can't believe Kirk hasn't resigned yet. And does anyone know if they broadcast preseason games as part of the NBA packasge on Direct TV

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