During the 1985-1986 season, Joe Dumars became a permanent fixture in the Detroit Pistons starting lineup.
His addition to the backcourt with star Isiah Thomas, began the slow ascension of the Pistons during the mid '80s. This was capped off by back-to-back championships in 1989 and 1990.
But as the saying goes, what goes up, must go down.
By 1993, the Pistons missed the playoffs for the first time in nine years, and the destruction began.
Thomas and Bill Laimbeer retired following the 1994 season, and Joe Dumars was left to usher in a new era behind star in waiting, Grant Hill.
The Hill era proved to be nothing more than a transition from one consistent winner to another.
Dumars retired after the 1998-99 season, and took over basketball operations prior to the 2000-01 season.
Dumars' job was to recreate a team of which he had been an integral part.
When you look at the Pistons, beginning with Joe D's rookie season (1985-86) and running through their sub-.500 effort in 1992-93, there was an obvious core of Thomas, Dumars, and Laimbeer.
Or, broken down generically—guard, guard, and role player.
The rest of the core team migrated from Kelly Tripucka and Kent Benson to the championship form of Mark Aguirre, Dennis Rodman, James Edwards, and Rick Mahorn.
The 2002-03 season saw Chauncey Billups join the Pistons via free agency, and Rip Hamilton come over in the Jerry Stackhouse trade with Washington.
Dumars now had his core guards.
Dumars drafted the player who would become his role player a la Bill Laimbeer.
That player was Tayshaun Prince.
The core was once again guard, guard, and role player.
An optimistic fan of the Pistons will see only one missing piece in the current blueprint—a solid point guard.
That player may be Rodney Stuckey.
Stuckey may very well be a part of the new core, but it is unlikely that Hamilton and Prince will continue to be productive enough to serve in that triumvirate.
Hamilton signed a long term extension earning him the role that Dumars once occupied, transitional leader.
Look for the Pistons to be busy in the offseason, likely moving Allen Iverson and Rasheed Wallace in an attempt to gain a high draft pick and get the guy that Dumars can see as filling out the core of the next era.
He should know...he helped create it, deconstruct it, and build it back up.
Recently, he has watched it fall again.
Now, can he build another masterpiece to compete in the East during the LeBron reign?
Time will tell.