Detroit Pistons Want Championships; Just Ask Former Coach Flip Saunders

Andrew PargoffCorrespondent IJune 4, 2008

As of Tuesday, it became known that Flip Saunders was out after three seasons as Detroit Pistons head coach.

What did he do to deserve this, you ask?

Well, he went 176-70 in three seasons and reached the Eastern Conference Finals each time. If you carried the one, that's a .715% winning percentage.

Enough to get the boot? Joe Dumars thought so.

First, we saw Avery Johnson ousted of Dallas and Mike D'Antoni fired in Phoenix.

Both teams are phenomenal regular season after regular season, but both failed to make deep playoff runs. Maybe it was the trade busts that were Jason Kidd and Shaquille O'Neal for Dallas and Phoenix, respectively.

But back to Saunders.

Before he came to Detroit, he had only reached one Western Conference Finals with Minnesota in several years there. Oddly enough, the last team to put him out of the Eastern Conference Finals was lead by his biggest star in Minnesota, Kevin Garnett.

He reached three in a row in Detroit.

You're at a disadvantage when the Pistons have been doing that for seemingly 10 years now. The franchise wants rings. Even then, if you don't keep winning, the ground below you can turn to quicksand.

Saunders came in before the 2005 season and the Pistons finished with a ridiculous 64-18 regular season record and beat Milwaukee and Cleveland in the playoffs where they lost only a combined four games.

They then came up against a very hot Miami team, lead by Dwayne Wade and Shaquille O'Neal and lost in six games. Miami went on to win the NBA Championship.

In 2006, the Pistons regular season record cooled off and they went 53-29. They returned to the playoffs and beat Orlando and Cleveland in the first two rounds, losing a mere two games combined.

They went on to go up against LeBron and some other guys also known as the Cleveland Cavaliers, and lost in six. The Cavs got beat like a red-headed step-child in the NBA Finals by the San Antonio Spurs.

This season, the Pistons improved on their regular season record going 59-23.

They once again disposed of Philadelphia and Orlando easily, losing just three games, even closing out the Orlando series without their leader, PG Chauncey Billups.

They met the Boston Three Party in the Eastern Conference Finals, and as the story goes, lost in six games. The Celtics now face the Lakers in the NBA Finals, set to start tomorrow night.

It's interesting, because it seems like the Pistons match-up best against almost every team in the NBA.

They just cannot seem to get over that hump.

Joe Dumars was asked about retooling the roster this off-season and he said, "You're thinking I may shake things up and make some big changes this off-season. You're damn right I am."

Flip Saunders' only curse was that he came to a team that had been spoiled by past successes.

That's how fickle fans can be.

It's crazy to think that once the Bad Boys were gone, the Pistons were the laughing stock of the league for a couple years. They have been one of the most consistent teams in the NBA since 2000.

Detroit fans really don't know how good they have it. They won't until it's gone, and that is a shame.

Word has it Saunders is the front runner for the Phoenix Suns coaching job, which he should be.

Good luck to you, Flip. We'll miss you.