Friday, June 01, 2007

What have we learned since LeBron James schooled us all?

1. Flip Saunders is despised in Detroit - The only men more hated is the 'stache running the Lions, and Tigers relief pitcher gas can Jose Mesa. There is no one left to defend Flip Saunders in Detroit. Not that he had many defenders left before last night, but after the LeBron debacle, Flip doesn't stand a chance in the court of public opinion. His only hope is in the backing of Joe Dumars and Pistons owner Bill Davidson, and nobody's talking in Auburn Hills.

Not that James was going to be denied, but Saunders has done nothing, especially in this series, to convince an already skeptical fan base that he is the long-term solution. Then again, there is no such thing as a long-term Detroit Pistons head coach, but that's another post.

Last night was a microcosm of the Saunders era. Between his strange substitution patterns, the refusal/inability to double/triple team James as he was running roughshod, the continuing struggles of the Pistons offense despite his supposed offensive "Genius," and the fact that he has little to no control over his team, this has Pistons fans wondering what more the Pistons brass need to see. Saunders in not the right coach.

After the Pistons are eliminated, and they will be, as even if they pull the miracle of all miracles and beat the LeBron's, there is no way in Hell they beat the Spurs, Saunders will have failed in doing the one thing he was brought here to accomplish, win the NBA title.

Maybe Saunders didn't have a chance with this roster, but from what we've seen, Saunders wouldn't win a title with the current Spurs roster, the Bad Boy Pistons, the Showtime Lakers, or any other legendary team. Saunders isn't going to win anyone a title, other than "Most Disappointing Team."

I guess the most damning thing you can say is that Flip Saunders is on the verge of being knocked out of the playoffs by a team coached by Mike "Whee! I'm riding LeBron's coattails!" Brown.

2. The Pistons, in their current incarnation, will cease to be after this season - I think most people, including myself, thought the Pistons had at least another couple seasons worth of an open championship window. After watching their past and current playoff struggles , it's become obvious that the window has now closed.

The Pistons don't have enough firepower. They too often struggle to score, and those scoring droughts are painful to watch. Detroit is missing that one player who can put the team on his back, as we saw happen last night, and impose his will upon a game. In other words, the Pistons don't have a superstar.

The 2004 title was accomplished without that big stud, and they aren't going to win another title unless the roster is changed. It's being said more and more around Detroit that this group of Pistons may become more remembered for their missed chances, than for their 1 championship.

The 2004 team will be somewhat forgotten nationally, like other NBA 1 shots, such as the 1978 Bullets. That's much like another Detroit title winning team, the 1984 Tigers. They had the talent to win one more than 1 title, but since they didn't, that group is more or less forgotten. Just look at the Baseball Hall of Fame balloting for proof...

I wouldn't want to be in Joe Dumars' shoes, as he has some tough roster decisions to make. I'm not sure what direction he should take, but the current direction is no longer the correct one.

3. There will be no such thing as a true "Hard" foul ever again - If you are of a certain age, and played the game of basketball at any level, you were born, raised, and coached with the mantra "NO EASY LAYUPS" ingrained into your subconscious. A "Hard" foul was expected if you drove the lane. That's just the way it was. Those days are long gone, and Pistons fans have to finally accept it.

Those who appreciated the Bad Boys Pistons will always have a love for that hard nosed style of basketball. Unfortunately, the rest of the basketball world doesn't.

It's no longer 1990, and rugged defense doesn't sell to corporate America. Hard fouls are a thing of the past. It's been legislated out of the game. Bill Laimbeer, Rick Mahorn, and Dennis Rodman would have been given lifetime suspensions for their style of play.

Personally, I blame Michael Jordan, as the NBA began to change after his "The Pistons were bad for basketball" statement. Just another reason Jordan will always be persona non grata in Detroit.

4. The Darko pick has finally come back to bite the Pistons in the ass - The Pistons have been scrambling to make up for that pick ever since Darko was shown the be nothing more than the "Human Victory Cigar."

I'm not going to bother rehashing the whole Darko situation, as it's been done to death, and we all know the who, what, where, how and why that was behind the Darko pick. But when you think about who that pick could have, and should have, been... I know, I know, hindsight is 20/20, and all that.

I'll just say if Dumars doesn't take the Euro teen, odds are I'm not writing this post, which might just as well be a Pistons eulogy. God damn you both, Chad Ford and Darko Milicic.


  1. You speak the truth as always, Big Al.

    "It's being said more and more around Detroit that this group of Pistons may become more remembered for their missed chances, than for their 1 championship."

    I had this exact conversation with a buddy before yesterday's game and he thought I was overreacting, considering that the Pistons have made it to five straight Eastern Conference Finals. It'll be interesting to see how history judges this team, but ultimately I think we'll all be saying they should've (and could've!) accomplished more.

    Regarding Flip: As you alluded to, he's almost reached the end of a Pistons coach's typical shelf life.

    And I also agree that the run for this team is over, and it's better to get a head start on reloading now before it becomes first-round playoff exit kind of obvious next season. Fortunately (I think), Joe Dumars seems to be pretty ruthless when it comes to cutting bait and making tough decisions. We'll see if he can maintain that philosophy this off-season.

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