Saturday, December 4, 2021

Pistons can improve on team image

November 6, 2000

The names are synonymous with winning.

James “Buddha” Edwards, Vinny “The Microwave” Johnson, Dennis “The Worm” Rodman, John “Spider” Salley, Isaiah “Zeke” Thomas, Bill “Lambo” Laimbeer, Rick “Bad Boy” Mahorn and of course, Joe Duuuuuuuuumars.

Rodman smothering opponents with clutch defense, Laimbeer exchanging pleasantries with the referees after controversial calls, Rick Mahorn banging opponents to the ground with his hefty posterior - those were the good ol’ days.

They were the original “Bad Boys,” a team that proved its worth on the floor by the number of hip smashes, flagrant elbows and punches they could get into a game to go along with their two back-to-back NBA titles in 1989 and 1990.

These Pistons were a no-nonsense group, hence their traditional blue and red jerseys with the modest old school “Detroit Pistons” logo. The players didn’t make rap CDs or play up to crowds solely to get on ESPN’s SportsCenter - they played the game.

Their blue-collar style of play set a standard in the NBA, a style well received in the Motor City, selling out the Palace of Auburn Hills on a yearly basis.

They didn’t wear teal jerseys or have dancing horses at courtside.

What a difference a decade makes. The “Hammertime” theme of 1990, coming off the Pistons’ second world championship is a distant memory. Since then it’s been “getting hammered time,” with the Pistons failing to play consistently, suffering numerous blowout losses.

This year’s current Pistons squad (1-3 in the league), consists of 11 players with six years or less of playing experience and a new coaching staff.

A mere 9,000 season tickets have been sold this season compared to 16,000 purchased during the championship years of 1989 and 1990.

It can’t get any worse for the Pistons than having multimillion-dollar players leave such as Grant Hill and Bison Dele.

Hill took the money and ran to a title contender, while Dele retired last season, a mere two years after signing his hefty contract, to work at a sewage treatment plant in Beirut (no joke).

Maybe Dele, known for being a soft player, can treat his game while he’s there.

Toughness is now en vogue, and the Pistons are trying to find any way to get it.

A sellout crowd of 22,076 for Friday’s home opener against the Sacramento Kings is a promising sign that professional basketball can be revitalized within the state.

It’s been dormant for too long.

Every year the Tigers make a late-season run after an awful start at the beginning of the season. Every year the Lions go 9-7 and lose in the first round of the playoffs, and every year the Red Wings are getting closer to playing shuffle pool at the retirement home.

Professional sports fans in this state have it rough.

Dumars, now the Pistons’ president of basketball operations, has the right idea in bringing back fans to the Palace.

Dumars assembled a group of NBA journeymen, notorious for toughness, got rid of lazy unproductive players and has made an all-out effort to promote the team.

So far so good.

With players such as MSU alumnus Mateen Cleaves, known for his toughness and leadership capabilities and all-pro scorer Jerry Stackhouse, fans should feel the organization is headed in the right direction.

It definitely can’t get any worse.

Eric Lacy, State News sports editor, is looking to suit up for the Pistons and give Scottie Pippen some more migraine headaches. He can be reached at lacyeric@msu.edu.

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