Before I say anything, let's just get one thing straight: The Detroit Pistons is the most classless organization in sports and Joe Dumars, despite all the goodwill he has in Detroit's community, needs to be fired as soon as possible and I hope he never lands another gig. Rodney Stuckey, quite possibly the sorriest excuse of a franchise player in the history of basketball, doesn't belong in the league. Numbers don't lie. The media does. If you don't agree with me on that then you should do yourself a favor and stop reading right here.
For those of you who read my previous articles (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/379469-the-latest-attempts-by-david-stern-and-media-to-destroy-allen-iverson http://bleacherreport.com/articles/296409-david-stern-took-this-too-far-the-operation-to-destroy-allen-iverson), you know that I no longer take an interest in the NBA, but the latest news in the train wreck of a franchise known as the Detroit Pistons, or should I say the place where Allen Iverson's rep and career were hanged, drawn, and quartered (and even though he is blackballed out of the league and became a bit of a martyr to his loyal fans, the mainstream media haters continues to beat the dead horse, take shots at him, twists the truth during his season in Detroit, justify his benching, continue to say he should had come off the bench and play 8th man minutes ie. less than 20 minutes per game, and flog and piss on this man's reputation.), is that Rip Hamilton is now the next target. I have been following this situation as it unfolds from afar mainly because of its relevance to the demise of Allen Iverson. Now I think the time is right to review the Rip Hamilton situation as it has been 10 games and counting since he last played. This, along with the firing of Larry Brown, stood out as the most recent examples of the politics in the new, watered-down, no defense, boring NBA, a league that I used to love. But I guess this is David Stern's intention all along.
Who is Rip? This is the same UConn product who has poured his heart and soul into this organization since 2002. Like fellow stalwart Tayshaun Prince, he's consistent yet unspectacular, a selfless player who is willing to sacrifice his stats to play Detroit's slow down half-court set, and quite possibly one of the best off-the-ball guards in the NBA. He sacrificed fame, stats, and money for winning (if he hogs the ball like Michael Beasley, Monta Ellis, Michael Redd, Kevin Martin, etc, he could pad his stats just like they do and end up getting paid more) and dedicated himself to the community. What I'm saying is that he's a class act. He might not be the most talented guy on the floor, but he's a winner and a great piece to add to the puzzle. For him and Tayshaun Prince, both mild-mannered guys in the NBA, to constantly act out like this in the past couple of years (technical fouls, ejection, taking 25 shots after getting benched) is very surprising and sad. They are not the bad guys or cancer, as the media seems to make them out to be as it previously successfully did with Allen Iverson. Yes A.I. is a controversial figure. People either love him or hate him, so it's easy to defame his character because all the closeted A.I. haters came out of the woodwork to kick him when he's down and even when he got blackballed out of the league, they still wanna beat a dead horse. Rip and "Prince of the Palace" are not as talented as A.I., so it is almost easier to defame their characters and make them look "washed up". It was harder to convince fans that A.I. couldn't play less than a year after putting up the most efficient season of his career and leading the Nuggets to franchise record in wins, but nevertheless the media successfully convinced most mainstream fans that that was the case, once again proving Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbel's philosophy "if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth." No one would second-guess it. No one would ask the hard questions. Unfortunately that's just how the world works. Don't worry about Rip though. He's gonna be all right. He will probably get traded eventually and possibly land a starting job. And if not, he's not the guy who averaged 27 points 7 assists and led his team to franchise record in wins anyway. If you're a hardcore Rip fan, I can tell you he won't be blackball out of the league that's for sure. What it does show is that the Pistons mistreating A.I. was no isolated incident. It is a pattern of classless behavior. It is no surprise that local media and spin artists, presumably on good terms with Joe Dumars, are putting out words that the Pistons are better off without Rip and that he is washed up. http://www.mlive.com/pistons/index.ssf/2011/01/numbers_dont_lie_pistons_bette.html http://www.freep.com/article/20110128/SPORTS03/110127086/1051/SPORTS03/Reader-column-Hard-believe-Pistons-better-without-Richard-Hamilton Gimme a break already. It's 2011 already, but the more things change, the more they stay the same.
FACT #1: The Pistons management aka Joe Dumars conned Rip Hamilton to sign an extension with the team hours before they traded his best friend and back court mate Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson in November 2008.
The crazy thing about this is on that particular day, November 3, 2008, I went on Yahoo Sports and the stories about Rip's contract extension and the A.I. trade were side by side. My feeling at the time was like when JFK got shot. I knew A.I.'s stats would take a major hit in his contract year with the Pistons' slow down half-court set. I knew the Pistons had no intention of resigning A.I. I knew Joe Dumars had (and still has) a weird infatuation with Rodney Stuckey even though the guy showed absolutely nothing special and is a major bust right now. I knew David Stern wanted Allen Iverson dead http://www.nykfanpage.com/editorials/viewarticle.php?articleid=215. I knew that the media, particularly Stephen A. Smith, Adrian Wojnarowski, among other insiders, referees such as Steve Javie, had it in for A.I. I also knew Joe Dumars is a Hall of Famer with an NBA job, which basically meant he was one of NBA's ultimate insiders and David Stern's yes men. It is also worth mentioning that A.I. didn't make any of the all-NBA teams despite the season that he had in Denver in 2008, setting career high in shooting percentage, assists-to-turnover ratio, and led the Nuggets to a then-franchise record in wins. It is also worth mentioning that the media was calling for A.I.'s head right after the Nuggets got swept by the Lakers by saying how he was "expendable" because they had J.R. Smith. J.R. Smith? Are you kidding me? Then they pretended to be surprised when Smith didn't end up starting or playing more minutes at all. That goes without saying, even though Marcus Camby and Kenyon Martin had no answer for Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, who were putting up 20-10 on them every game. Within days after the trade, there were rumors that Rip wanted out and felt misled. I don't blame him.
Why the extension? Why the curious timing? The only possible explanation was to create rift in the locker room and to make the old guards (Prince, Rip, Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess) take a dislike of Allen Iverson. In essence, Joe Dumars sabotaged the Pistons and wasted owner William Davidson's money to do David Stern's dirty work. Don't blame Michael Curry. Blame Joe Dumars.
FACT #2: Rodney Stuckey is the Pistons' biggest problem, not anybody else.
I have been saying this since 2008, but the media, both local and ESPN, continues to twist the truth and give him a free pass just because he's Dumars' golden boy (or a decoy to sabotage established players' careers, whichever you prefer). Remember when Dumars put the entire team on the block other than Stuckey after the Pistons got eliminated in May 2008? What did he ever show in his rookie year to deserve the untouchable label? He barely shot above 40%, had a horrible assist to turnover ratio (so he's no point guard), had no perimeter game to stretch the floor (so he's no shooting guard). He doesn't draw enough fouls and earn cheap points from the free throw line. He misses more layup than anybody in the NBA and the D-league combined. It's year 4 of the Stuckey experiment and he barely improved. He's just taking more shots, so his numbers look respectable, but anybody from the NBA could put up respectable numbers if they're playing 36 minutes per game and taking 18 shots. Seriously, what made him so special to Dumars that he's willing to destroy an entire franchise to accomodate him? Even in baseball, with its prospects-obsessed culture, would had pull the plug on this farce by now. In fact, this team is a better team if they release Stuckey outright. It's a simple addition by subtraction. Don't believe me. Look at the fact.
- The Pistons were top 4 in the East and beat the Lakers, Magic, and Cavs head-to-head with A.I. and Rip as the starting backcourt: The 2008-2009 Pistons weren't very good. Everybody was a role player. Antonio McDyess was an undersized starting center. Kwame Brown had to start a lot of games. Allen Iverson was playing teamball and sacrificing his stats trying to fit in despite the amazing year he had with Denver the previous season. They beat the Lakers and the Magic, teams that won on to the NBA final that season, and the Cavs, the team with the best regular season record, head-to-head when the team was still a work in progress chemistry-wise. They were top 4 in the East and a darkhorse contender. They even won 7 games in a row once in the early going. What did Michael Curry, Dumars' yes man do? He introduced an undersized 3-guard lineup that put Stuckey into the starting lineup and forced Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince to play out of position. I didn't know players can't develop coming off the bench. Wasn't it all about "it isn't who starts, but who finishes"? Apparently it doesn't apply to Stuckey. Anyway the Pistons started to lose. How the hell would it work with Rip defending the opposing team's small forward and Prince defending the power forward? It was a recipe for disaster and the words the media put out was "blame A.I." He's ballhog. He's a cancer. He's washed up. Never mind that he was playing teamball and sacrificing his stats in an already difficult situation and in a style that doesn't fit him (think Shaq with go-to Phoenix) or any other volume scorers (you think Carmelo Anthony would turn out to be a star if he got drafted ahead of Millicic?) Never mind the fact that he was changing up his game during his last year with Denver like Michael Jordan did in his 30's by developing a lethal mid-range game, settling career high in shooting percentage, significantly cut back on his turnovers while still drawing tons of fouls and leading his team to a then franchise record in wins when his backcourt mate was Anthony Carter.
- Rip's first benching: Predictably the 3-guard undersized lineup failed miserably, the media was calling for A.I.'s head (why should A.I. come off the bench a few months after putting up his most efficient season while Jason Kidd, Baron Davis, Elton Brand, Shaquille O'Neal, Vince Carter, Stephen Jackson, Mike Dunleavy, and Grant Hill continue to start is beyond me) while Stuckey didn't take any heat and was treated like an established starter. Michael Curry, who later became the fall guy, allegedly promised Rip and A.I. that he would lean on them heavily for the rest of the season, but a few days later, Rip was benched. The vets mutinied. Team chemistry was gone. Any chance of this team contending was gone. Rasheed Wallace went home and didn't come back until near the end of the season. Tayshaun Prince stopped caring. Rip basically said eff teamball and was firing 20 plus shots off the bench on multiple occasions to express his frustration. At the same time, the media continued to assault A.I., so they could justify his blackballing during his impending free agency. Stuckey was putting up horrible numbers in February 2009 when the Pistons lost 8 in a row and Curry lost the team. http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/players/4293/gamelog;_ylt=An7KZLDpkAei99zdZIe8iyWYPaB4?year=2008 (6, 18, 6, 8, 16, 12, 3, 2, 8, 8, 6 with atrocious percentage) and yes he was playing at least 34 minutes on average. The media didn't say anything about Stuckey and A.I. ended up getting benched.
- A.I.'s benching: A.I. at first tried to say all the right things because he evidently didn't wanna give the media a field day. That didn't work. He wasn't getting Rip's 6th man minutes. He was getting 8th man minutes. 21 minutes, 18 minutes, 17 minutes in those 3 games less than a year after the amazing season that he had with the Nuggets before he went home due to a "back injury" just like Rip's "stomach virus" right now (how's that for a parallel?) It was a precursor to his blackballing in summer 2009. Mo Williams posted comparable number and he was an all-star. Allen Iverson put up the same number in slow down Detroit half court set and he was washed up. Gotta love the media
- Will Bynum's 32 points performance on April 5th, 2009: I have repeatedly said that Will Bynum is a better option than Rodney Stuckey. In fact, nearly every guard on the Pistons roster is a better option than Stuckey. Right after A.I. left the team, Stuckey's minutes started to reduce, which was very weird and reeks of conspiracy. It didn't help that the same thing happened after A.I. left Memphis and Mike Conley's minutes instantly dropped significantly in an effort to put the best players on the court and win more games and to further discredit A.I. Stuckey got benched during crunch time during the April 5th game against the Bobcats, another team in the running for the last seed of the playoff. Bynum scored 32 points and the Pistons more or less clinched a spot in the playoff.
- Michael Curry's firing and the aftermath: Throughout the ordeal, Joe Dumars continued to distance himself from the decisions of Michael Curry, who was called a liar by both Rip and A.I. But anybody who doesn't think Dumars was the one calling the shot is delusional. Stuckey is Dumars' pet project. Curry was Dumars' yes-man and Dumars was Stern's yes-man. A little bit of a history lesson: who was the Pistons' starting small forward before Tayshaun Prince? The answer, you guessed it, is Michael Curry. The fact was that Curry was completely washed up and overmatched yet started for an entire year while first round rookie Tayshaun Prince languished on the bench until they got desperate in the playoff. He was also a rookie head coach. After he successfully carried out the mission Dumars and Stern assigned him: to sabotage A.I.'s career and free agent stock, he got canned after Dumars repeatedly made statements to the public to the contrary. Yes, he's a liar and he lost the locker room. The remaining old guards, namely Rip, Prince, and to a lesser extent Jason Maxiell, hated him. But Dumars is the one that they should be hating. In case you're feeling sorry for Curry, don't. In an under-the-radar move, Curry was hired as the assistant head coach by the Philadelphia Sixers as a part of new head coach Doug Collins' staff soon after A.I.'s departure, another slap in the face by the NBA and the utmost betrayal by a team he poured his heart and soul into.
- Chucky Atkins' cameo: Chucky Atkins is not a very good point guard. He is more of a perimeter shooter who could spread the floor than a floor leader. LeBron James would love to have him on his team. He was the starting point guard before Chauncey Billups' signing. Anyway the point is that Atkins was completely washed up when he made the team out of training camp last season. The last time he shot above 40% was in '07. Nevertheless, the Pistons played their best ball last season when Atkins was their starting point guard. It's safe to say that the Pistons would probably be playing better if a D-leaguer is their starting point guard over Stuckey.
- Rip is the problem? Are you kidding me?: Rip got benched again a month ago, so Dumars could justify the Gordon signing. Once again, the vets, now only consist of Ben Wallace, Rip, and Prince, mutinied. Blame it on A.I.? Nope he's not there anymore. Blame it on Curry? Nope he's not there anymore. Dumars found himself another yes-man in Kuester, another rookie head coach. Rip was only playing 25 minutes per game to begin with anyway. First game he got benched, he took 20 shots in 28 minutes and scored 35 points on December 22nd. How's that for a redux? February 7th 2009 called. It wants its glory back. The team started to be more competitive, but that's mostly because Stuckey was hurt and T-Mac was running the point. Then Dumars finally put an end to the Stuckey the point guard experiment and made T-Mac the new starting point guard and Gordon got benched again. Once again, despite all the lineup shuffling, no one could touch Dumars' golden boy. T-Mac got benched before. So have Gordon, Will Bynum, Rip, Ben Wallace, and Charlie Villanueva. When are they gonna bench Stuckey? The local media and spin artists, presumably under direct instruction from Dumars, are spreading lies about somehow Rip is a cancer and the team is playing better without him. The truth is the team plays better whenever Stuckey isn't there. T-Mac is the starting point guard right now. Chris Wilcox is getting more playing time. Those subtle tweaks makes all the difference. The team would be even better off if Gordon or Rip were starting at shooting guard instead of Stuckey, who has zero 3 point shooting ability and a crappy midrange game. It would help them spread the floor a bit more, create more spacing, and more opportunities for the big men. Richard Hamilton is not the problem. He's not a star and yes he was overrated. But he's an asset to any team. He's the best off-the-ball guard in the NBA hands down. Rodney Stuckey was, is, and will be the problem until he is either at the end of the bench or mercifully released. This team could be a middle of the pack playoff team in the East, but as long as Stuckey is starting, this team will never reach its full potential. It doesn't matter how much free agency dollars they throw at Gordon, Villanueva, Wilcox, and Ben Wallace. It doesn't matter how many lottery picks they get such as Austin Daye, Jerekbo, and Greg Monroe. They will continue to be one of the worst teams in the league. This team isn't rebuilding. They already spent all the cap space A.I. and Sheed created. Dumars wanted to make Stuckey the franchise player. He spent all the cap rooms to get him "supporting cast" and got a lot worse.
What's the point of this article? Casual fans need to re-evaluate what they take as facts in the whole A.I. situation in Detroit. A lot of people called him washed up, cancer, team killer, loser, should come off the bench. None of it is true. The Nuggets won only 3 more games with Billups than the previous season with A.I. and lost to the same Lakers team. Anthony Carter went from starting to the inactive list. Nene had cancer when A.I. was there. The garbage men and glue guys like Chris Andersen, Dahntay Jones, and Arron Affalo. Their bench consisted of ballhogs like J.R. Smith and Linas Kleiza. And now Melo wants out and he never wanted out when A.I. was there. The Nuggets are still going nowhere. As for the Pistons, they're just a classless organization from the top down period and I highly doubt any top free agent would ever wanna sign there until Dumars is fired. Rip Hamilton has been a model citizen in the NBA for a long time and for him to get treated this way, you know something is seriously wrong and toxic with the politics of that organization. It's bad enough that the NBA nowadays is a watered down league. Guys play defense like girls. There's an overall lack of enthusiasm from both the fans and players. Guys are too laid back and lack intensity. Stats don't even mean anything now because defense is so bad. Guys lack marketability and hardly anyone stands out. Basically it doesn't seem like they're playing every game like their last. Then you got the politics. From changing rules, instructing refs to fix games (company men Dick Bavetta, Tim Donaghy, Steve Javie, etc. Lakers-Kings series, Mavs-Heat series), manufacturing stars (how did the Thunder take the Lakers to 6 games? By letting Kevin Durant takes 20 free throws per game while Kobe Bryant took 2. It was a series to legitimize Durant. Why did the Cavs have top 3 payrolls in the NBA during LeBron James' last 5 years there despite being in a smaller market?), and sabotaging superstars careers with league-brokered trades that both make and break careers and legacy (Allen Iverson to Detroit destroyed A.I., Pau Gasol to LA saved Kobe Bryant). Nobody pretends it's a meritocracy, but right now it's just a dirty business. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/news/2003/01/18/blazers_wallace_ap/ Maybe Rasheed Wallace already knew something we don't. This article pretty much sums up the vibe in the current league "don't cross David Stern". http://insider.espn.go.com/insider/blog?name=player_x&id=4937084 Do you think it's an accident that Steve Javie was the ref in game 2 of the Sixers-Lakers final after A.I. shocked the world in game 1? Even Donaghy corroborated with A.I.'s claim that Javie has personal vendetta against A.I. http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=2721633 http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/30/sports/basketball/30refs.html?_r=1 Do you know how many free throw did A.I. take that game? 4. Yes, four. It was simply impossible with the way A.I. was playing and dominating the ball. http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/players/3094/gamelog;_ylt=Al6EPs53n4ORkhHzVW3T9.0WPKB4?year=2000
He got voted into the all-star game last year and Stern made him come up with the daughter was sick excuse. The media went as far as calling the fans "stupid" for voting for A.I. over the so-called manufactured, squeaky clean "stars" Stern and ESPN are forcing down our throats and was bombarding us with angry hate-filled rants in articles and columns. 3 games later, A.I. was gone from the NBA. What's working behind-the-scene we will never know. What I do know is someone high up threatened A.I. not to attend the all-star festivity because A.I. was very looking forward to it and repeatedly spoke out about his desire to attend.
A.I.'s mentor and advocate Larry Brown recently got fired. Larry Brown wanted to bring A.I. to the Bobcats to resurrect both of their careers in summer 2009 and remained one of his only advocates among the NBA insiders. Michael Jordan, like Dumars, another ultime NBA insider and Stern's yes-man, vetoed the trade and then traded for Stephen Jackson. I find it weird that all the insiders/hall of Famers with direct ties to Stern all had a hand in A.I.'s demise. Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, and Karl Malone were sounding off on A.I. even back when he was a rookie and continued to do so when their careers were over. Brown led the team to their first playoff appearance in franchise history last season yet got fired after 28 games. Does it have anything to do with Brown's advocating A.I.? Is Brown gonna get blackballed for life? It's very likely that Larry Brown never coaches another NBA game again despite his agent insistence that he will. It's also safe to say that if A.I. got to play for him again, both of their fortunes would have turned out differently. Michael Jordan, or should I say David Stern, would never allow it and I wouldn't be surprised if he also has a hand in Brown's ouster.