The Lakers were led by Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Gary Payton, and Karl Malone, (a few all stars and hall famers there), while the mighty Pistons had a journeyman point guard in Chauncey Billups, a controversial Rasheed Wallace, an unknown yet up-and-coming Ben Wallace, Tayshaun Prince who would rise as a shooter and defender, and the non-stop moving of Richard Hamilton, all led by hall of fame coach Larry Brown.
Today, after six straight Eastern Conference finals appearances and a new coach in Michael Curry, Detroit currently sits in eighth place after Saturday's game in Philadelphia.
Let that sink in.
Detroit is supposed to be a top three team in the East and a top team in the NBA as a whole, yet they're fighting for their respect and their playoff lives. It's beyond pathetic—it's ridiculous.
Nowadays, whenever I might tune into a Pistons game I'm often finding myself cheering for the opponent. Even if Detroit has a slight lead at the half I'll say to myself, "Oh, they're gonna lose." Just like today's game, I thought they would lose and they didn't disappoint me!
Somewhere, Bill Davidson isn't smiling like he used to. Joe Dumars, the former NBA Executive of the Year anointed "trade genius" by the media, might recall a press conference after another ECF loss where he gave the official word that Flip was canned. During this conference he said, "Everybody's in play, there are no sacred cows here."
However, on opening night, the same starting five that have been running for four years are still playing.
Also in that press conference, Dumars referred to the last 10 minutes of game six when Detroit unsurprisingly blew a 10-point lead, saying it was "a microcosm of the last three years." And to top it off Dumars said that "this team became way too content and did not show up with a sense of urgency to get it done."
Well, on April 4, 2009 things have not changed! If you wanted to ruin the solid chemistry that Detroit had, you should've done it in the offseason when you said you would.
However, after three games into the season you trade away one of the most recognizable faces in Detroit sports in Chauncey Billups. Why not the loudmouth Rasheed Wallace? Instead, Dumars decides to bring in a six-foot version of Rasheed Wallace in Allen Iverson.
Dumars said, if I remember correctly, "I'm gonna do whatever the coach asks me to do on the basketball court, to help the team win." Yet a few days ago Dumars publicly whines like a little girl, saying he'd rather retire than come off the bench.
Hopefully Joe Dumars will put some pieces together to make another title run. A good start would be a frontcourt player who is a post threat, and who can also play defense. The Pistons haven't had that since Ben Wallace.
That's no knock on Antonio McDyess, but he can't be the Pistons' only threat in the post. McDyess is a great player who has been a hard working player throughout his whole career. He has come back from knee surgeries, and was a better fourth quarter away from that elusive championship ring.
Almost forgot to mention "Mr. Shiny Bald Head" a.k.a. Michael Curry. Why he was given this job is beyond me. The Pistons should have conducted a full-length coaching search, and he should be axed at year's end along with Dumars.
Honestly, although his voice is very weird, I think I speak for most if not all Pistons fans when I say that Avery Johnson should've been given the job. He actually likes to coach and preached defense—imagine that!
Let's set the stage for tomorrow night when the Detroit Pistons clash at home against the Charlotte Bobcats for the eigth seed in the east. Awesome.