The Detroit Pistons have been a team in transition without a clear direction to transition to. There is plenty of blame to go around for the current state of the Pistons, but the person most likely to shoulder the blame is team president Joe Dumars.
Think about the position Dumars is in right now. For a minute, forget whether or not you like Dumars or whether or not you think he deserves to stay. For just a moment, trade places with the man.
It is your job to assign the personnel for the Detroit Pistons, a club that has won three titles over the past 20 or so years. Only a select handful of franchises can claim the same distinction.
Therefore, there is a lot of pressure to make sure that the team competes. But it's okay; you have a great boss and you personally were directly responsible for all of those titles.
Sure, you made a few bad deals here and there, but your boss loves you and he understands.
Then all of a sudden, your boss dies. Instead of having a strong person with the same type of commitment to the franchise and desire to win, you have an owner that couldn't care less about the team.
By all accounts, Karen Davidson has been shopping this franchise as soon as the ground hardened at her late husband's grave. That's fine, she didn't love this team like her husband did, but that's not her fault. She didn't ask for this team and she didn't ask for her husband to die.
But now, your boss is obviously not interested in putting together a winning product, and has in fact instructed you to not add new contracts. That would be fine if you already had a good team and the personnel in place to win.
However, due largely to the fact that you made some mistakes along the way, you have a team that is not built to win right now. In fact, you have one of the worst teams in basketball.
So now, instead of being able to fix the problems that plague this team, you are forced to sit and watch every game with your hands tied. Basically, you are as helpless to fix this team as the fans are.
So what do you do? Most people would probably quit. Few could blame you if you decided to throw in the towel. Sure, you caused this mess, and therefore you should have to clean it up before you leave. But since ownership isn't allowing you to change things, you are in a difficult position.
You also are a classy person that has never passed the buck in your life, and you don't intend to start now. You are not a quitter or a coward, and you don't want those words attached to your legacy. So all you can do is hope that the club is sold quicker rather than later.
But hold on a second, will you have a job when the new owner steps in? In all honesty, it is highly unlikely that a new owner will keep any of the old regime in place. I mean, would you want the old guard in place if you bought the team?
A new owner wants to make his mark. It is the whole reason that people buy franchises. They want the status and cachet that is afforded them when they own a team. They want to do it their way, and whether they admit it or not, they want total control.
And while you are not a glory hog, you are a constant reminder to the new owner of the way things used to be done. Would you really want someone sitting there, second-guessing your moves?
So instead, you are in a pure state of limbo. You can't quit, you can't improve the roster, and you can't root for a new owner.
Would you really want to trade places with Joe Dumars?
At the end of the day, Dumars is waiting to be fired. But he is too classy to quit on this team, so he is going to wait it out and hope for the best. He is also too committed to this franchise to walk away from a mess that he created. And make no mistake about it, this is a mess of his doing.
Dumars had a great run to start his career as a general manager. He restored the Pistons to their rightful place among basketball's elite franchises. He ditched the nasty teal uniforms and brought back the good old red, white and blue. He even brought a title back to the city of Detroit.
But over the past five years, Dumars has consistently struck out.
He traded the face of the franchise, Chauncey Billups, for a broken-down Allen Iverson.
He gave Richard Hamilton a ridiculous extension that he didn't need to give him.
He used the cap space created by the Iverson deal to sign two players that aren't even starters.
He went through coaches like others go through socks, and now he is stuck with one that is arguably the worst of the bunch.
So now, he is stuck with a team without cap space, without a point guard, and without flexibility going forward.
And he can't fix it.
Now I'm not advocating on behalf of Joe Dumars. Take a look at my past work; I am the furthest thing from a Dumars apologist.
But the next time you berate the man, think for a minute what it would be like to be in his shoes.
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