Ben Wallace was once repeatedly referred to as ‘Keon Clark’ in a game against Keon Clark (Video)

I don’t know. I always kind of figured this clip would be a shoe-in for low key internet virility but for whatever reason, it just hasn’t caught on to this point.

Looking for an idea of just how far Ben Wallace had to climb from the bottom in order to gain even the tiniest inkling of league notoriety? Look no further than Game 1 of the 2002 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, when TNT’s Bob Neal spent a healthy portion of the first quarter referring to Ben Wallace as “Keon Clark”:

In Neal’s defense, Wallace entered that 2001-02 campaign as a relative unknown. So it’s not like he was some kind of award-winning NBA all-star in the making or something.

Wait a second…

Okay, so maybe Ben Wallace just happened to be the recipient of the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award prior to Game 1’s tip-off.

Even then, I get it. You’re announcing a playoff opener in front of a raucous crowd that hadn’t seen postseason basketball in over a decade so you get caught up in the moment and make a mental mistake. We’ve all been there. I mean, Dick Stockton once spent an entire evening calling Brent Barry “Drew” (his brother’s name) before eventually referring to a coin toss as a “toin coss”. It happens.

But the strangest moment of the Keon Clark situation came at the 39-second mark for the clip above, when Ben Wallace was fouled inside by the real life Keon Clark, at which point Bob Neal’s brain blue screened and sustained a hard restart.

“Inside Keon Clark and he is fouled and…                Keon Clark committed that foul.”

The jig is up, right? Keon Clark can’t foul Keon Clark. That makes no sense! That’s how I always envisioned what Neal’s train of thought at that very moment. And that pregnant pause seemed to suggest he was coming to his senses.

Alas, one possession later, there was Ben Wallace attempting a baseline fader, leading to Neal’s next paradox.

“Keon with the fadeaway on the baseline… Clark with the rebound.”

I don’t know. Maybe I’m alone in how fascinating I’ve always found this clip. But I mean, he’s calling Ben Wallace Keon Clark for two minutes in a row! Even when the real life Keon Clark fouls the fake Keon Clark! How does this happen?!

Either way, beyond being a simple brain freeze, the mix-up serves notice to just how far under the radar that Pistons squad really was when they re-emerged in ’02. Wallace’s dominant run through the early 2000s illustrated that respect is earned in the NBA. And in the meantime, you’re just another Keon Clark.

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