Last night, ESPN aired another installment of their award winning “30 for 30″ documentary series.  This episode was especially of interest to me (and likely most of you) because it was 2 hours of interviews, video, and discussion about the Detroit Pistons during the “Bad Boy era” of the late 80s and early 90s.  The 2 hours started with a brief explanation of the city of Detroit falling on hard times and its residents moving out to the suburbs, including the Pistons franchise.  It continued with a brief mention of how the front office was put together after several lackluster seasons (and even a still photo of Dick Vitale as Pistons head coach!).  The story continued on through the back to back championships and then ended by closing on how a majority of the team ended their careers.

It reminded me of what that team meant to me…(Full disclosure: I was 9 years old when the Pistons beat the Lakers)

I didn’t know what basketball was when Isiah Thomas was drafted #2 overall from Indiana University.  I didn’t know who Joe Dumars was, or for that matter, where McNeese was or what a state even was.

My Dad was born in mid-western Ohio, in an area where you were either a Cincinnati or Detroit fan.  My Grandfather was a big time Lions and Tigers fan, and eventually became a big time NCAA basketball fan.  I was born and raised about 8 miles west of Washington DC, and up until I would say 1987, I knew about basketball and a hoop, but I can’t admit to knowing there were professional leagues like baseball and football because my Dad is/was very much a fairweather fan when it came to basketball because he didn’t really grow up with basketball being a big thing.

My Dad was a guy who worked shift work at a local print shop, often working long hours helping make ends meet for my mom and I (which would eventually be 1 of the reasons they split up, because of all the hours he worked).  My Mom and Dad split up when I was 7 years old, and while I do remember that happening I don’t remember why.  What I do remember from this time period though early on in my life is that my Dad was always home and he had 2 friends from his job (a Laker and Celtics fan) that always came over, or we went to their house, to watch all of the pivotal games…together.

It’s my first memory of bonding with my Dad over something after my parents separated, because we spent a lot of time reading about and following the Pistons.  (I mean christ… I’m 11 years old and reading “The Franchise” about the Pistons and not even knowing what a cuss word is and the book is full of them.)  All of my pictures from school during those years you’d see me wearing a Pistons shirt or sweatpants or a combination of both.  We would go to Richard or Al Jackson’s (we always say Al Jackson’s full name, because, well… he’s Al Jackson) house whenever the Pistons would play the Celtics or Lakers, and we’d go to the Capital Center to see the Pistons when they came to Landover, Maryland to play the Washington Bullets.  His company had courtside seats, and I’ve stood next to John Salley and James Edwards as a 10 year old getting pictures taken when they came to town.

Detroit Bad BoysLooking back at clips and highlights of the Bad Boys teams, I love their physical and “blue collar” attitude toward the game.  I remember the highlights of the games as memories of watching them live.  Occasionally you’ll catch a replay of a Bad Boys era game on NBATV, but nowadays you really can only remember the games through the various highlight reel plays that ESPN wants to flash at you.

I love how GM Jack McCloskey wasn’t satisfied with merely reaching the playoffs or a certain level of the playoffs, even for a franchise that had not seen regular season success prior to his takeover of the front office, he was constantly wanting to improve the team.  Let’s not fool ourselves… the Pistons teams had a lot of talent on them.  Isiah Thomas was a #2 overall pick, Mark Aguirre was a #1 pick, Vinnie Johnson was a #7 pick, Adrian Dantley was a 2-time leading scorer in the NBA with 30+ points per night, etc etc etc… the team was put together a lot like that 2004 Pistons team was.  A core of once highly regarded players who came together and played for the betterment of each other as a group and not as individuals.  So often, this frustrated me about how Joe Dumars approached managing the personnel for the “Going to Work” Pistons teams.  Dumars seemed satisfied letting a player’s contract expire rather than using that player and his diminishing skill as an asset, and trading him for younger talent that could extend the Pistons latest run.  But… this isn’t a post meant to bash Dumars and his personnel decisions

Most importantly though for me personally… the Bad Boys spanned a critical transition period in my life (and including my Dad, our lives) where sports came along and eased the pain of a major life change like separation or divorce, by having a favorite team win or be on the verge of winning.  Finding out later about a lot of the details of what went on during those years, and more specifically the death of Joe Dumars’ father in the Portland Trailblazers series, have only cemented my love for the team

The Bad Boys turned me on to the game of basketball, and while my love for it has dissipated over the years (due to strikes, lockouts, etc), whenever I get together with my Dad for a beer or even when I see my Mom and the topic comes up, it’s a fun discussion to have and many laughs are shared.  My Mom always used to say “Danny, you should’ve been born on a basketball court in Detroit”, and while it never really made much sense to me, I guess the countless nights of me straggling back home as the street lights came on, from the park playing pickup basketball is the reason why she said that.  Afternoons of cherry picking at the 3 point line, trying to replicate Joe Dumars’ shooting motion (but as a lefty).

At the end of the 30 for 30 episode as the players were walking off the set with the caption of how they were either traded or retired, I couldn’t help but get emotional about it.  Hell… when Rick Mahorn got choked up talking about how he was picked by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Expansion Draft after the 1989 championship season, it caused me to choke up a little bit.  All good things come to an end, and shortly after that period in the Pistons’ history, we had to endure years of the “Teal era” that vaulted the franchise deep into another dark period before the 2000s came along.  Let’s hope the Pistons can rebound again soon, so that the next generation of young, impressionable Detroit/NBA fans have a reason to cheer for the Pistons and make The Palace one of the loudest arenas in the NBA once again.

For the first time since the 2000-2001 season, the Detroit Pistons will head into their season under new leadership as President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars has stepped down after another disappointing season for the Pistons.

The Hall of Famer Dumars helped assemble the ever popular “Going to Work” Pistons team that made it to the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals for six (6) straight seasons from 2003 – 2008.  Lauded for his ability to put together a ‘team’ that could play well enough together that they could overcome any odds against them in the form of single or double superstar teams, Dumars’ tenure has come to a crashing end from a beginning that lead him to winning the 2002 – 2003 Executive of the Year.  Years of “staying the course” on the championship Pistons teams caused the team to gradually age itself out of competitiveness and it’s mettle being tested after the departure of Ben Wallace to the Chicago Bulls, the disastrous trade of Chauncey Billups to the Nuggets for fading star Allen Iverson, the signings of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince’s contract extensions, trade of Ben Gordon for a protected #1 pick and then use of Gordon/Hamilton and Prince cap space to sign PF Josh Smith and sign and trade for Brandon Jennings.

Dumars’ failing can easily be identified in player scouting (years of late 1st round picks that fell flat), and his poor use of cap space in an era when so many teams were dumping quality players in order to acquire/sign stars like LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony in a league that has slowly changed itself into a star driven league, moreso than a team oriented league.

Dumars will be best remembered for his drafting of Darko Milicic over future All Stars Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Carmelo Anthony after winning the right to pick #2 in the 2003 NBA Draft after acquiring the pick by trading Otis Thorpe to the Grizzlies for the First Round pick that by the time the 2003 Draft came around was only protected against being #1 overall.  Most NBA fanboys will fill up a comments section of any blog post about Joe Dumars with throwaway comments about how ‘Darko sucks!!11′ or ‘Doomers is the worst’, often forgetting that Milicic was part of the future after Ben Wallace or Rasheed were to re-sign and be too expensive to keep the championship team together.

In recent years Dumars and the front office has improved in the scouting of younger players as they’ve succeeded in drafting 2 quality frontcourt players in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.  Even though both players came highly rated out of High School and College, the naysayers still hammered Dumars for not taking guys who were more statistically inclined to make the transition from preps to pros.

Over time, the league has seemed to pass Dumars and most GMs by.  With the inclusion of statistical analysis along with game tape and other old school ways to gain on opinion on talent, Dumars fought it by saying ‘talent wins out’.  With new owner Tom Gores preaching “playoffs or bust” coming into the season, anything less than a strong showing in a weak Eastern Conference would spell doom for Dumars, and today the gauntlet has been laid down.

Dumars will remain with the team as an advisor, and Assistant General Manager George David and Director of Basketball Operations Ken Catanella step in to lead the Front Office through the NBA Draft and free agency period.  Exciting times are ahead for the Pistons, for sure.

The 27-47 #Pistons are in Indiana to take on the 52-23 Pacers Wednesday night at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Detroit, who’s seen better days is coming of a win at home against Milwaukee, while the Pacers are seriously slumping come playoff time.

The Pacers, who look to be a threat to the Heat in the Eastern Conference has dropped three straight and five of six to fall into second place in the Eastern Conference. So a game against Detroit may just be what they are looking for.

The good: Detroit actually knows how to beat Indiana, even when they’re not slumping.
The bad: The Pacers are 16-4 in their last 20 against the Pistons and if Detroit decides to win, they make this lottery thing even more of an issue.
The unknown: Bless Andre Drummond for being one of the few things at the Palace to watch this season. Can he record his 50th double-double of the season against Roy Hibbert?

Pistons: Chauncey Billups, Josh Harrellson are out.
Pacers:: Andrew Bynum and C.J. Watson are out.

Fact:The Pistons rank first in the NBA in points in the paint per game with 52.6.
Fact:Detroit leads the overall series 87-86, but Indiana holds a 54-32 advantage at home.

Tip off is at 7:30 pm and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Detroit . If you can’t catch the game on TV, catch it on the radio over at 97.1 The Ticket.

It was a very special night at the Palace of Auburn Hills Friday. The Bad Boys were reunited and honored at the halftime of the #Pistons vs. Heat game to commemorate the 25 year anniversary of their championship.

I’ve been to some very special nights at the Palace, so it was nice to have that special feeling in that building again.

Video Courtesy of Fox Sports Detroit

Dennis Rodman didn’t make it, but when you get to even say Fennis Dembo, let alone see him in person it’s like your birthday and Christmas rolled up in one.

The 26-45 #Pistons will host the 48-22 Heat Friday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Pistons, who are 1-2 against the Heat will do their best for a home team crowd who will pack the Palace to see the Bad Boys reunite.

The good: Despite the upsetting season, Pistons fans should get a treat to see some of their favorites being honored at The Palace.

The unknown: Is it possible for some of the Bad Boys “mojo” to rub off on the current Pistons?

Pistons: Chauncey Billups, Josh Harrellson are out.
Heat::Ray Allen and Dwyane Wade – unlikely.

Stat: Detroit is 1-2 against the Heat this season.

Tip off is at 7:30 pm and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Detroit . If you can’t catch the game on TV, catch it on the radio over at 97.1 The Ticket.

The #Pistons season got you down? Leave it to Rasheed Wallace to brighten up anyone’s day.

Sheed sat down with one of my favorite all time Pistons Rick Mahorn for a saucy debate right before the Bad Boys are getting honored at the Palace Friday night.  Who would win the Pistons “Bad Boys” or the 2004 Championship team.
What ensues is hilarious.

Sheed on the Pistons Bad Boys Bench.  “all y’all’ had was Vinnie.” The Worm…”no threat.”

Video Via

James Buddah EdwardsAt least he has respect for Buddha!

Thanks Sheed, Pistons fans need a little comedy these days.

Place your vote over at the voting is pretty tight. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve watched both teams win their Championships and the 89 team would have pulled it out.

The 26-44 #Pistons will host the 28-44 Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Cavs, are a game ahead of Detroit in the Playoff race and 4 1/2 back of Atlanta for the last spot in the awful Eastern Conference.

The two teams, who once were serious Championship contenders, haven’t had much luck making it to the post season. The Cavs have missed the playoffs for the past four seasons, while Detroit hasn’t been there since 2009.

The good:The Pistons finally ended their 13 game road losing streak against the Jazz Monday night. The Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving, who usually puts up big numbers on Detroit.
The bad: Despite Detroit owning the record that they do, they still have a chance to do two things. Make the playoffs and lose their lottery pick.
The unknown: Andre Drummond has played lights out since returning from injury, will he keep it up, or will Josh Smith who is averaging 21 against Cleveland this season, score the majority of the buckets?

Pistons: Chauncey Billups, Josh Harrellson are out.
Cavaliers:: Kyrie Irving , Anthony Bennett , Carrick Felix , Sergey Karasev and C.J. Miles are out.

Fact:The Pistons rank first in the NBA in points in the paint per game with 52.6.
Stat: Detroit is 1-1 against the Cleveland Cavaliers this season.

Tip off is at 7:30 pm and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Detroit . If you can’t catch the game on TV, catch it on the radio over at 97.1 The Ticket.

The 25-44 #Pistons are Utah to finish up their West road trip against the 23-47 Jazz Monday night. Detroit would love to pull out a win to break a streak they don’t want to be on. This Pistons team is on a 13 game road losing streak, their longest since the 1980-81 season.

The good: This team may just keep their lottery pick in the upcoming draft, but knowing the Pistons luck they won’t. It was nice to see Jerebko come up strong with a season high 22 points in the Pistons loss against the Clippers.
The bad:If the Pistons lose to the Jazz they will have match their worst losing streak of the season at six.
The unknown: The unknown tonight isn’t about the game in general it’s about Pistons fans. How do you actually feel about this season, are you actually rooting for them to lose because you want them to save their pick?

Pistons: Chauncey Billups, Josh Harrellson are out.
Jazz:: Alec Burks and Andris Biedrins are out.

Fact:The Pistons rank first in the NBA in points in the paint per game with 52.6.

Tip off is at 9:00 pm and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Detroit . If you can’t catch the game on TV, catch it on the radio over at 97.1 The Ticket.

The 25-43 #Pistons are in Los Angeles to take on the 48-21 Clippers Sunday night at the Staples Center. If Detroit keeps playing like they have been, their chances of sneaking into the playoffs seems more likely. The Clipper look to make it six in a row against the Pistons as when they take the court against them on their home court.

The good: This team may just keep their lottery pick in the upcoming draft.
The bad: Detroit doesn’t do well against the Clippers, who have taken seven of eight from the Pistons, including five straight by an average of 15.6 points.
The unknown: Will Josh Smith ever make a free throw again? Smith became the third player in the last 10 seasons to miss all eight of his free throws in Friday night’s loss to the Suns.

Pistons: Chauncey Billups, Josh Harrellson are out.
Clippers:: J.J. Reddick is out. Jamal Crawford is a game-time decision and Darren Collison is probabe.

Fact: Clippers center DeAndre Jordan and Pistons center Andre Drummond are in the top two in rebounds per game and field goal percentage for the2013-14 season.

Tip off is at 10:30 pm and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Detroit . If you can’t catch the game on TV, catch it on the radio over at 97.1 The Ticket.

The 25-42 #Pistons are in Phoenix to take on the 39-29 Suns Friday night. Both the Suns and the Pistons are fighting for a spot in their respective conferences for a playoff spot. The Suns with start Friday night’s game on a five game home winning streak. Detroit on the other hand has a record they don’t want to break Friday night. If the Pistons lose they will have their first 12 game road losing streak in 21 years.
The good: The Pistons are 1-0 against the Suns this season.
The bad: The Pistons have lost their five straight on the road to the Suns.  Andre Drummond is questionable Friday night.
The unknown: Can Josh Smith, who led the Pistons with 25 points the last time these two games keep his cool and lead this team to their first road win in 11 tries?

Pistons: Chauncey Billups, Josh Harrellson are out. Andre Drummond is questionable.
Suns: Emeka Okafor and Leandro Barbosa are out.

Stat:Phoenix has held the Pistons under 100 points in seven of the last 10 meetings, including four sub-90 games (which includes two sub-
80 games).

Tip off is at 10:00 pm and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Detroit . If you can’t catch the game on TV, catch it on the radio over at 97.1 The Ticket.

Sheed in the D
Rasheed Wallace is back in the D! There is a Need4Sheed.
Mr Big Shot is Back!
Chauncey Billups is back where he belongs.
Nobody Beats This Drum
Wear Dre Drummond Proudly! Nobody beats Andre Drummond.