The Pistons' New Coach: Can Curry Cure Them?
On June 10, 2008 Michael Curry was named as the head coach of the Detroit Pistons for the '08-'09 season, receiving a 3-year deal worth $2.5 Million per season. In his career as a pro-baller ('93-'94, '95-2005) Curry played for the 76'ers, the Bullets, the Pistons, the Bucks, the Raptors, and the Pacers. Not known for being a major offensive threat, Curry never averaged more than 6.6 ppg in a single season. After he retired from the NBA, curry was brought back to Detroit as an assistant to head coach Flip Saunders and also served as the NBA's vice president of Player Development (whatever that means).
All of this is fine but it begs the question: why in the world would Joe Dumars consider hiring a definitively mediocre former player with next to no coaching experience as the head coach of arguably one of the best NBA franchises? Because Curry is a team guy and is all about being accountable. Because Curry is known for being a defensive savant. Because, finally, the players will have somebody who commands respect on the court and in the locker room.
"He'll hold people accountable" Dumars said when asked about Curry's head coaching potential. "Every team needs that, but especially one competing for a national championship."
Ok, so he gets some respect from the other players but this guy seriously has no coaching experience. He's a former player but it's been said by men far wiser than I am, 'Those who can't play, coach. Those who cant coach, manage.' When asked about his lack of experience, Curry merely said "I've been on the bench as an assistant for 15 years. For me, personally, it was an easy transition. Having all those leadership roles I had as a player made it that way (speaking of his time serving as president of the player's association)"
In my honest opinion I think he's more on his way to being a program manager than a head coach. I'm not saying that he doesn't know the game, I'm just worried about his apparent lack of knowledge or skill set on the offensive side of the ball. His team has a lot more room to move backward than it does forward and he has a bunch of OLD players on the court. Billups, Sheed, Hamilton, and McDyess aren't getting younger, Tayshaun Prince is working on 30, and there isn't much younger depth on the bench outside Rodney Stuckey and Jason Maxiel. You really can't teach an old dog new tricks, especially if that old dog is Rasheed Wallace. These guys are good enough to at least keep every game close and win the majority of them but for some reason they like to check out of certain games. Pistons fans know what I'm talking about. It's almost like they just don't feel like winning on a particular night. When Sheed is cold, everyone else is cold. Then guys like Billups and Hamilton try too hard to compensate for the rest of the team and end up throwing up bricks. It's the Mr. Hyde to the normal Dr. Jekyll that fans are used to seeing and he shows his ugly head every once in a while, and in important games.
This is a really good unit but it's going to take more than a new head coach to get them over the hump and into the championship games. Can Michael Curry tame Sheed and get the respect from the rest of the team that was clearly lacking in the Flip Saunders era? Possibly. Will this team be a better defensive unit? Most likely. Does this team have the talent to play for the conference and possibly the national title? Yes. But none of these questions bring up the answer for why the Pistons have only been second best in the east for a while. The main questions is which Pistons team will show up when you flip on the television for some basketball? Will it be Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde? And I'm sorry Pistons fans but Michael Curry doesn't hold the antidote to Dr. Jekyll's serum. Look for the pistons to be near the top but watching the conference playoffs from home.
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