In Memoriam: Detroit Pistons 2000-2009
On April 26, 2009 the Detroit Pistons’ season was laid to rest after being swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers. The boys from Motown have been experiencing complications from a heart removal surgery in November.
If the finality of sports seasons were written like obituaries this is how the Pistons would commence. This is more than just the end of a season, but the death of an era. A decade long mystique of a team that won a NBA title, and went to six straight Eastern Conference Finals has become non-existent, taken beyond the realm of functional reality.
Watching the Bad Boys Part Deux was similar to watching a loved one, who was once filled with vitality, slip into dementia. Forgetting the ones who loved them dearly, losing grip on all sense of identity, and reverting to childish ways. Disheartening.
The beginning of the renaissance of basketball in Detroit was quite unsettling. The initial move to sent Grant Hill to Orlando for Ben Wallace.
Wait, Ben Wallace the guy with the funky afro? Indeed.
Next Joe Dumars traded Jerry Stackhouse for a scrawny Richard Hamilton. The genius begins to blossom. Then there was the signing of then journeyman Chauncey Billups. Just another brick in the wall? Yes, of a championship.
Of course one would be remiss if they failed to mention the blessing of being able to draft a lanky defender from Kentucky by the name of Tayshawn Prince. However this acquisition may have begun the downfall.
In 2003, and quite confident in the prince of The Palace’s abilities, the Motowners selected Darko Milicic. They could have selected Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, or Carmelo Anthony, who is currently playing with Billups in Denver, but the Serbian victory cigar was the sliced bread of Joe Dumars draft.
The final piece of the puzzle was attained when Detroit traded for Mr. Technical Rasheed Wallace. Sheed was able to behave enough to guide the Pistons to a Hickory style upset of the Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals.
At the conclusion of the 2005 season Ben Wallace, the original hustler in this equation, signed with Chicago. The same summer Larry Brown, after an injury plagued season, decided to retire.
The most crucial move was the trade that sent Chauncey to the Nuggets for Allen Iverson. Although the six foot MJ is very physically tough, his mental toughness has been a weakness. Was his back or were his feeling hurt? Plus Detroit was built on team play, and Iverson is a player that very much needs the ball.
Allen Iverson’s attitude was only part of the problem. Michael Curry seemed wholly unable to corral the egos. Winning the championship seemed to spoil the athletes in the Motor City.
They became uncoachable the moment Larry Brown left. What could they possible learn from someone who hasn’t won it all? This season also saw Rasheed continue his reputation of temper tantrums. One is willing to forgive in times of prosperity, but a bad loser is not where amazing happens.
There were some positives. Richard Hamilton when healthy was a solid go to scorer, but the only one. Tayshawn Prince continued to be dependable playing in more the 400 straight games. At times Rodney Stuckey looked brilliant, others he looked lost.
This group will not be remembered as the best team of the decade. Perhaps they are the most underachieving team of the decade. Time will judge this group. Hopefully it will keep in mind all the unforgettable moments, but one is only as good as their last performance.
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