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To say it’s been a rough few years for the Detroit Pistons is an understatement.  We have watched them go from perennial Eastern Conference powerhouse and NBA Champions to the butt of jokes in town that could barely get people in the seats at the Palace. And you know what…it hasn’t been easy to watch.

Isiah ThomasAs a fan of this basketball team since Isiah was drafted, I can say it’s taken a toll on me personally.  I learned the NBA game watching the Detroit Pistons. I was just youngster when this team was starting to make their mark in the NBA when Boston and the Lakers dominated the league. I watched with shared heartache as when they came so close but let it slip away.  And when they finally broke through and won their first championship I reveled in the joy of  it all.

The road took this team on an incredible journey that very few franchises get to experience. The driver behind the trip was a great man named Bill Davidson that left his mark on the sports world by taking team ownership in sports to another level and built the foundation to the way they things are run today.  He trusted the right people, let them do their jobs and gave them the leeway to build winning teams.  And for that we will all remember him for what he did. His legacy will be one not forgotten, but it’s what happened after him that most of us would like to forget.

I am a fan of this team first and foremost.  Personnel, players and coaches change, but the Detroit Pistons will always be where the love is.  I never meant to invest a good part of my time and my life to this team, it just happened.  I’ve spent more money on tickets than I care to remember on and even more time watching, writing and losing sleep over the years.  And I wouldn’t trade if for the world.  Except a few blunders in the playoffs, an inbound pass that was picked off and a very memorable incident leaving of a certain 3-point shooter open.

Despite all the bad in past seven or so seasons, I’ve never wavered.  It hurt, but I kept on watching, reading and investing my time just like I had been for years. It was even more difficult for me as people around me (knowing that I do this little Need4Sheed thing) mocked the team, laughed at me and told me to run for the hills until better days and better games.

Detroit Pistons All Stars 2007

I didn’t.

The one thing I did do however is spoke the truth about what was going on with Detroit Basketball.  I love this team, but I’m not homer when it comes to putting blinders on when things go wrong.  I’m not an employee of the franchise and I don’t have to tow the company line. Things were awful.

Joe Dumars kept the band together while teams around him in the division got stronger.  When he finally made a move he essentially traded away the heart and soul for an aging superstar that would relieve the cap while causing issues the entire season on and off the court.  He brought in coaches that didn’t work, made horrible free agent signings, questionable and draft picks.  He even has player mutiny during his tenure.  I mean, did you ever think that the Rip Hamilton situation would end that way?  You can’t blame it all on Dumars as he tried to do what he could while the team was up for sale, but he could have done better.

It was one revolting development after another.  Just when you thought things would get better, they didn’t.  I love the team, but I never defended what was going on.

Are the tides changing for the better? It  sure looks that way.  The summer has brought big changes to this team, some that I’m excited about, some that I’m not.  Will they make a difference, I think so. New coach, new players, new enthusiasm means something to a franchise that is starving for the glory of season past. There hasn’t been this much talent on this team in a long time.

So this Pistons fan fells good today.  This is the first year in quite some time that I am overly excited to head off to the Palace on Wednesday night and watch my team open the 2013-2014 season. I am hoping for a year in which I won’t be mocked for still being a fan.  A year that It won’t be so easy to get tickets to the Palace on a night other than a Heat game.  A year that I will be happy standing in long lines to get popcorn.  A year that I will be happy writing recaps of games and putting a W by the schedule.  A year of promise.

Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond

This is my team.

I’m still here.

I had a sad realization on Saturday night as I was watching the #Pistons take on the Bobcats.

I shouldn’t care that much when this team beats the Bobcats on a second shot by Charlie Villanueva.

I don’t know about you, but I always considered myself a true Pistons fan. I understand that they are in a transition and working towards building the team back up. I don’t expect record-breaking crowds at the Palace. I don’t think a sought after free agent will sign with this team unless some sort of blackmail is involved. I’m not expecting Tom Gores to do the things that Bill Davidson may have done to make Detroit a contender. I don’t think lottery balls will ever fall in the Pistons favor. I can go on and on.

I have taken things a little different in regards to watching the team the past few years. Contrary what most people think I am a team person not a player person. I know you wouldn’t think that since you are on a site called Need4Sheed, but it’s true. I may like certain players, but at the end of the day I’m all about the team. So when this team started their transition into what they are right now I started mine too.

George Blaha BobbleHeadI didn’t get a stomach ache any more after a team loss. I didn’t have to take the exact same route to the game. I stopped doing my little ritual when passing by a certain landmark on the way to ensure that the Pistons won. I didn’t find it necessary to always walk into the same door at the Palace when attending a game. I didn’t make sure I rubbed the top of George Blaha’s bobble head like he was a Buddha and say “count that baby and a foul,” before I sat down to watch a road game in my living room.

In other words, I stopped acting nuts.

So on Saturday night when I was watched Detroit struggle to beat a team that have just as many wins in the past two seasons as Michael Jordan’s jersey number I realized I care just as much about this team as I did when they were dominating the eastern conference. I had to record the game because I had a birthday party to go to, but when I got to the restaurant I noticed they had a bar with a bunch of TV screens. All of them on the NCAA tournament but one. The one at the very end where nobody was sitting was turned to the Pistons game. Heck with the birthday party, I grabbed my drink and plopped down in front of the Pistons game and watched the last quarter of the game.

I cheered,  squirmed in my seat, and I was a little too loud when Charlie V hit his shot. I cheered because I cared, and so did the team. A win, even though it didn’t really matter, mattered more than I ever thought it could.

So I can pretend that I don’t really care as much as I used to, but I’d be lying to myself.

It’s the little things that make you realize how much you love things even when they may not be as good as they used to be. I look forward to being as nuts as I used to be.

To the future of the Pistons.

 

Bleacher Report Featured Pistons ColumnistHead on over to The Bleacher Report and check out my article on Greg Monroe.

Game Plan for Taking Greg Monroe’s Detroit Pistons Career to the Next Level

Check it out and leave a comment for me.  It was originally supposed to be “Game Plan for fixing Greg Monroe’s stalling progress”, but I put the kibosh on that.  He’s the sixth best center in the league right now, he’s hardly stalling.

Follow Detroit Pistons on TwitterFollow me on Twitter @Need4Sheed_com

Bleacher Report Featured Pistons ColumnistYour friendly Need4Sheed blogger (me), is taking her talents to the Bleacher Report.  This doesn’t change a thing when it comes to the Need4Sheed.com, but a couple of times a week you’ll see me lend my opionins to the Bleacher Report about our very own Pistons.

My first Pistons piece is Studs and Duds from the Detroit Pistons’ Early Season Games.

Check it out and leave a comment for me if you agree , disagree or just think i’m a total idiot.

 

Follow Detroit Pistons on TwitterFollow me on Twitter @Need4Sheed_com

At the last minute someone handed me two tickets to see the Dallas Mavericks take on the Pistons at the Palace. I wasn’t planning on going to Tuesday night’s game, especially after witnessing the beat down on Saturday night. But when someone hands you tickets to see your favorite team, no matter what you already have planned, you go. Or at least I do.

Big mistake on my part.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate how lucky I am to get to see the Pistons play in person, but right now it just plain hurts to watch them.

Could this team be worse than the teams of the dreaded “teal” era? They can’t be right?

This team has great young talent like Greg Monroe, Jonas Jerebko, Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey. On paper they have a team that looks like they can compete better than six game blowout steak.

Greg Monroe vs The Heat

Photo/Getty Images editing Need4Sheed.com

We watch Greg Monroe progress with each game, with absolutely no help down low. We are watch Brandon Knight’s baptism by fire trying to lead this team at the point with limited practices and no training camp. We watch whatever kind of funk that Austin Daye is in. We watch Tayshaun Prince getting old in front of our eyes. We watch Ben Gordon be the player that took his Bulls uniform off and then forgot how to shoot. We watch Ben Wallace give it his all in limited minutes.

We watch fewer and fewer people at the Palace. In fact the crowd last night looked more like a Shock game than it did a Pistons team against the World Champions. Sadly about the only time you’re going to see a decent crowd in the place will be when Miami and the Lakers come to town.

Is it fair to say that last night (or pick a night for that matter) this team looked like a JV team playing in the NBA? By the time I could blink they had already turned the ball over 10 times.

Does anyone remember the good times when the Pistons would go a consecutive games with 3 turnovers or less?

I haven’t seen a coach this vocal with the players in quite some time. By the end of the season Lawrence Frank is going to have way less hair than he already does.

What we are really doing is watching the madness unfold right before our eyes.

If something doesn’t change, this team will be right were a lot of people wanted them to be last season. At the head of the pack for lottery balls. Trouble with that…this draft class doesn’t have a true superstar and knowing the Pistons luck this would be the year they got the #1 pick.

On any given night, you can search this site or twitter for the #FireJoeDumars chant, and that I can understand, but I don’t agree with.

Bless the Pistons employees for trying to make the best of what they are watching, especially Blaha, Kelser and Matt Dery, who have to put a positive spin on what they know is a horrible product.

I’ve just resigned this season to be one of pain, and hopefully growth. If you can make it though with me than you’ll be a bigger fan years down the road. It happens to every team at one time or another, be strong.

And sorry Mr. Gores…no returns, exchanges or refunds on this one.

Tom Gores toon

Rip HamiltonFrom time to time I will be talking Detroit Basketball over at The Breakdown, a fantastic site with information on all NBA teams along with a great weekly show with  Dave and Audley.

My first piece is something that I needed to say about Rip Hamilton’s return to the Palace. Some of you may agree and some of you may disagree with it, but just know one thing…it came from the heart.

Please take a minute and let me know what you think.

We have all heard the saying “All good things must come to an end” sometimes it’s for the good and sometimes not.  Just ask Lions fans.

Today I got a glimpse into what Pistons fans (as well as anyone who attends an event at The Palace) have in store for them now that Tom Gores and his team have remade The Palace.

Today the media was formally introduced to Dennis Mannion, President of The Detroit Pistons and Palace Sports and Entertainment. My first impression of Dennis is that he is a man that knows what he’s doing.  Mannion has spent 29 years working in the four major professional sports leagues (MLB, NBA, NHL, NFL), including two years managing business operations for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche from 1998 to 1999.  Mannion most recently served as President of the Los Angeles Dodgers where he worked from 2007 to 2010.  He also previously worked for the Baltimore Ravens from 1999 to 2007, and for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1982 to 1997.  If you question his effectiveness as a Front Office Executive, I would direct you to look at the 1996 MLB All Star Game in Philadelphia and the 2000 NHL All Star Game in Denver (Colorado Avalanche), both events he was instrumental in bringing to the cities.

Dennis Mannion

Not only does Mannion have a vision, he has brought in a team of new people and a new philosophy to the Company and organization.

  • LUCINDA TREAT – Executive Vice President of Business Operations & Strategy Insideout Sports & Entertainment – Madison Square Garden- New England Sports Ventures – Boston Red Sox – Florida Marlins
  • CHARLIE METZGER – Chief Marketing & Communications Officer
  • KEN CATANELLA – Director of Basketball Operations
  • HARLAN HENDRICKSON – Vice President of Lifestyle Marketing Denver Nuggets & Colorado Avalanche
  • LAUREN MILLER – Director of Fan Lifestyles
  • IGGY RODRIGUEZ -Director of Promotions
  • DANIELLE WILLIAMS – Community Partnerships Manager
  • HEATHER COLLART – Community Relations Manager

They really did stress Tom Gores vision of Coming Together.

At first glance, things looked different walking into the West Atrium of The Palace.  Instead of the standard wall of photos, you’re now greeted with 3 large screen LED video displays of Pistons Players.

As Dennis spoke he explained that his team wanted to take The Palace to new levels.  They are working on a new cohesive color scheme fitting for The Palace, which seems to have landed on silver and blue.

The Palace Floor

This whole revamp wasn’t just about the Pistons, it was about about everything that has to do with The Palace Sports and Entertainment.

The whole idea of this revamp was to help the fans enjoy their experience at The Palace, if they were going to a Pistons game or coming to the Palace for a concert.

This, of course, meant making the Pistons players happy.  The more comfortable the team is, the greater chance you have of a cohesive, winning team. It starts with the door they walk into on game day. The new locker room door encased in silver with a blue neon glow is a very good start.

The entire locker room was revamped with each players personal space a little more personal.

Locker Room Door Pistons

  • Pistons Players LoungeA new media wall to watch clips and videos game day along with one of the best in the biz Charles Klask to bring the team the stats they need to win.
  • A few steps away…a new players lounge with a big screen TV for players to relax and unwind.
  • Less of a drive, as the Pistons team plane now lands just a short drive from The Palace of Auburn Hills.
  • A revamped training area right next to the locker room doesn’t hurt either.
  • As for Pistons Fans….Come out to see the Pistons Opening Night and you’ll see things you’ve never seen before.
  • A new court.
  • New banners in the rafters.
  • A new video presentation.
  • New lighting.
  • New giveaways, one for almost every home game.
  • New theme nights (yes, there is a Star Wars Night FEB 10th).
  • Tons of new Video Features.
  • A new intro!
  • A new (and I won’t spoil it) kick off to the season for the Season Opener.
  • A new way of doing things.
  • New Twitter video boards in The Palace come Feb 14th to interact via Twitter with fans at The Palace.
  • A New Beginning.

We may not always want change, but it’s inevitable.  With Tom Gores and Co. changing things for the better, and giving Pistons fans a push towards a social media, digitally friendly, fan based environment ….we all win.

Jonas Jerebko's Locker

I haven’t been this excited to go the the season opener since we won the championship in 2004.

To a new and prosperous beginning….that remembers the past.

Good things don’t always come to an end, sometimes they just move into a different direction.

I’ll see you Opening Night!

Danny , Dave and just were lucky enough to be graced with the presence of Vince Ellis, the Detroit Free Press Pistons beat writer for an interview.  What better time to have Vince on then for the craziness that has surrounded the Pistons the last week.

Rip HamiltonWe talked the Rip Hamilton buyout, the Tayshaun Prince signing and why Rodney Stuckey hasn’t signed with the Pistons.  Vince, as always,  was very informative and had plenty of insight into what would have been an Amnesty situation with Rip had he not went to the team for a buyout.

We thank Vince again  and hope he comes back even if I did give him the business.

Make sure you listen to the podcast and follow Vince on Twitter if you aren’t already at @Vee_Ellis4Freep and read him over at the Freep.

New Need4Sheed.com Detroit Pistons Podcast with Dave Wieme – The Vince Ellis Interview

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Danny and I just went on a podcasting marathon with my good friend and former Director of Strategic Communications at the Palace Sports and Entertainment Dave Wieme.  You remember the fun we always have with Dave on the Podcast, so we have given him a permanent place on the broadcast whenever he’s available to grace us with his presence.

Dave Wieme

We touched on a plethora of Pistons and NBA info like what we may expect from the organization, Tom Gores, Joe Dumars chance in making it past this season, what happened last season, if T-Mac was a Cancer to the roster, Rodney Stuckey, what our roster might look like, T-Prince sign and trade, if I could “take” Lawrence Frank, what would happen if I had to “toon” Kaman and what our starting lineup might be.  This was a refreshing start to what should be an fun season for Pistons fans.

Make sure you listen to the podcast and follow Mr. Wieme on Twitter.

New Need4Sheed.com Detroit Pistons Podcast with Dave Wieme – We Have a Season!

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