Currently viewing the tag: "Vinnie Johnson"

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.

So we’ve got some down time between now and the end of Summer when it comes to Pistons basketball.  What better to do than discuss who would be on your 12 man roster of All Time Detroit Pistons.  Some of the readers here are only old enough to know the young(er) guys like Rodney Stuckey, Tayshaun Prince, or Grant Hill, while some of the old(er) readers remember Dave Bing, Bob Lanier and even Dave DeBusschere.

Let’s set some ground rules:

  1. 2 point guards, 2 shooting guards, 1 combo guard/forward, 2 small forwards, and 5 power forward/center types.  Although the Miami Heat showed they can win without a true big man, there are enough good Pistons big men from the past that could get the job done.
  2. Pick a Coach, and coaching staff.  Your coaching staff can be a complete staff from a particular coach, if you’re not aware of the individuals who have coached over the years.
  3. Pick a uniform era (Teal era, Bad Boys blue and white, old blue and white with thunderbolt, etc)
  4. Pick an arena (likely all will pick The Palace, since The Silverdome was awful)

Ok, with all of that said, here is my team and an explanation as to why for each:

  1. Isiah Thomas (Starting PG): Hall of Famer.  Fiery leader who left it all out on the floor each night.
  2. Chauncey Billups (PG): Quiet leader who let his game do the talking.  Value was truly unknown to this team until his was traded.
  3. Joe Dumars (Starting SG): More of a combo guard than anything, because of his ball handling skills.  There is not a better guard tandem to have ever played this game than the backcourt of Thomas and Dumars.  Plus, he was my favorite player growing up.
  4. Vinnie Johnson (SG): Instant offense off the bench – may not be more talented than Richard Hamilton, but if I need a guy off the bench I want the Microwave.  (Note: my omission of Rip Hamilton is not meant to be a slight against him)
  5. Dave Bing (Combo SG/PG): Hall of Famer.  Bing was a player who was way ahead of his time.  Averaged 22 points a night in an era where the 3 point shot wasn’t available.
  6. Adrian Dantley (Starting SF): A lot of people will say that Mark Aguirre put the team over the top, because Dantley was only good at one end of the floor (offense).  Dantley made his impression on me as a youth with his scoring ability and high socks which made it look like he was faster than he actually is.
  7. Tayshaun Prince (SF): “The Block” is what should put him on every All Time Pistons team for the rest of his life.  That block was what helped propel the Pistons into the 2004 Finals for their franchise’s 3rd NBA Title.
  8. Dennis Rodman (Starting PF): “The Worm” is there to get under your skin.  A lock down defender against guys twice his size and weight.  Awful on offense, but with all the shots being hoisted up by my backcourt, I need solid rebounding down low.
  9. Ben Wallace (Starting C): Having Big Ben start alongside Rodman leaves me short up front, but who scores on these guys when both are in their prime?  This front court could average 24 rebounds a night.
  10. Bob Lanier (Backup PF/C): Averaged 23 and 12 a night for the majority of his career.  Left handed big men always get bonus points with me.
  11. Rasheed Wallace (Backup PF/C): Is the best stretch Power Forward from an era when the stretch power forward became a fad.  Known for his constant trash talking, Rasheed has been called the best teammate that his teammates ever had.
  12. Rick Mahorn (PF/C – 12th man/head benchmob cheerleader): Mahorn was a load in the paint.  Would smile in your face if he knew you didn’t like it.
  13. Chuck Daly (Head Coach): The implementer of the “Jordan Rules” would relish the chance to design defenses to guard some of today’s young “me first” basketball players.
  14. 1989-1990 Coaching Staff: Lead by future Toronto Head Coach Brendan Malone.
  15. The Palace of Auburn Hills (Arena): The Palace still looks new to me.  In an era where things have to be “bigger and better”, the Palace has been able to thrive for over 20 years now.  Sure, there have been several facelifts and modifications.  But like with fine wine, the Palace seems to get better with age.
  16. Bad Boys era blue and white Pistons uniforms:  Something about these unis signified toughness for me.  If it wasn’t the plain block lettering with the big red and white stripes, it was the plain blue shorts with the stripes around your waist and down your thighs (like boxing trunks).  Plain and simple, until they were screwed up by the teal era.

Detroit Bad Boys

Honorable mention: Grant Hill, Bill Laimbeer, Richard Hamilton, James Edwards, and John Salley.  Larry Brown and Flip Saunders.

I couldn’t nominate Grant Hill to be a starter, because although he was one of the best players to ever wear the Pistons red blue and white, he wanted to get out of Detroit.  He wanted to escape the teal era.  I couldn’t do Rip either – too many guys who were the epitome of Pistons basketball for me growing up as a child of the late 80s and early 90s.  These are guys who I emulated on the basketball court myself.  Buddha and Salley were tough casualties, but I could only keep 12.  Same with Laimbeer.

So let’s hear it Pistons fans, who is your All Time team?  I can admit I wasn’t around to see Bob Lanier or Dave Bing play, but their stats don’t lie.  It would be fun watching the combination of Ben and Rasheed Wallace match up against the big men from the Bad Boys era, like Laimbeer and Salley had to.

 

This #Pistons Video has got to put a smile on your face after Detroit’s game against Philadelphia. I didn’t get a chance to watch the game live, but it was on in the distance and I watched the score throughout. I just had a chance to watch the replay and if you’re like me, you don’t want to rehash that one. That’s why I prefer to give you a little video to make you think of better days.

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

Video Courtesy of the NBA and the Detroit Pistons

It was an emotional night at the Palace with a bulk of the Bad Boys on hand the Pistons honored Dennis Rodman by retiring his jersey and hanging it in the rafters of the Palace.

If you didn’t have the honor of following Dennis’s career you probably don’t realize what kind of person he really is.  The hair, tattoos and the stunts don’t even scratch the surface of the emotion, heart and will that Dennis had. Rodman left his mark on this franchise and not only will his jersey hang in the rafters of the Palace forever, the’s going to deservedly be inducted into the Basketball Hall of fame this year.

The Palace was electric and trust me when I tell you there wasn’t a dry eye (including my own) in the house when Dennis held up the t-shirt with a picture of Chuck Daly and Mr. Davidson that said Thank You Detroit on the back.

Photo/Getty Images editing Need4Sheed.com

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

Video courtesy of the NBA and the Detroit Pistons

Be patient, this is a long video (about 30 min) and it may take a while to load.

Class act Dennis, no matter what you think you deserve all of this. We thank you!

Need4Sheed InterviewNo Need4Sheed to be playing in a basketball game for me to co-host the Celtics Late Night Show.

I was supposed to do the post-game Pistons/Celtics show, but we ran into technical difficulties.  So Nick and the gang were nice enough to ask me back to give them a hard time for 2 solid hours of Pistons-Celtics mayhem.

I don’t know why they keep subjecting themselves to my Pistons nonsense, but this is your chance to talk live with Nick and I and the rest of the gang at Celtics Late Night Show about all things Pistons, Celtics,  the rivalry, the green hate, Larry Bird’s mustache, Rasheed’s allergies to the paint or whatever your heart desires.

We will be taking your calls all night long and giving away PRIZES,  so be sure to tune in and call in. I’m personally going through my stash to see what I can give to the listeners.

If you want to know what’s in store, just listen to this little teaser from the last couple of times I took over their show.

I will co-hosting this one live with guys from Celtics Late Night Show this Monday, March 29th starting at 9:00 pm to 11 pm.

That means you need to give us a Call. Let’s take this show over, if you don’t call I may to get Will Bynum to dunk on you.

347-215-7771Celtics Live Late Night

LISTEN LIVE

A little about one of my favorite Pistons Vinnie Johnson, for no other reason that he’s awesome and I saw him twice in the past week. And FYI he’s a really nice guy, he held my cup of Starbucks Coffee for .007 seconds to warm it up for me…..he’s still got it after all these years.

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

  • The Ben Wallace to the Pistons speculation is gaining ground.
  • New assistant coach Brian Hill on board in Detroit.
  • Don’t miss the Pistons summer league wrap up on Sunday Night July 26, at 8 & 10 pm followed by a must see Special on the one and only Chuck Daly at 8:30 & 10:30 pm on Fox Sports Detroit.
  • Eli Zaret caught up with Chris Wilcox when the Pistons inked his contract.  Get to know him in if you already don’t.
  • For all of you who keep inquiring…Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Austin Daye, DaJuan Summers, Jonas Jerebko and the voice of the Pistons John Mason have all been Tooned. Wilcox is on his way and the sidebar with the faces will be changed once the full roster is set.
  • And by the way…you may not have been the only one who missed the Charlie Villanueva Toon….he asked me himself when he was getting one.  Little did he know he missed it…and FYI he liked it.
  • I was pretty sure Will Bynum was going to come after me with all the photoshop fun I had with his interview, but he actually loved it.  Thank goodness, I thought I was going to have to go into basketball hiding, which I would assume would involve me going to Memphis and covering the Grizzlies.
  • Summer League Video Highlights Austin Daye.
  • Summer League Video Highlights of DaJuan Summers.
  • Summer League Video Highlights of Jonus Jerebko.
  • Deron Washington is doing his best to make the Pistons.  Plus another YouTube classic from my friend Elie Seckbach with Deron.
  • Austin Daye let us know via Twitter that he signed his contract with the Pistons.  “@Adaye5: Just signed my contract haha great day about to head to Spokane fir a lil and see some friends…” If you were following Austin or myself you would already know.
  • Um…why didn’t I play in George Blaha’s High Hopes Golf Invitational? Pairing up with the Microwave would have been awesome. (Photos)
  • Chris Weber gives us his Fab Five Pistons.


As a Pistons fan in what seems like unfamiliar territory watching this seasons’ NBA Playoffs, it took me back to a time when things changed for the Pistons. You can say as fans that we are spoiled, six consecutive ECF appearance with a two Championship showings and one NBA title.  I don’t call it spoiled, in fact I call it a bit of domination.

That team of journeymen who soared to great heights over accomplished according to NBA standards. Chauncey, Rip, Wallace X2, Prince, Memo, Elden, Corliss etc… started something that didn’t suddenly come to an end.  A little bit of that special something died when the Pistons lost to the Spurs, when it looked like they were going back to back.  A little more so when Ben Wallace bolted for Chicago and the final straw was the Chauncey Billups trade.

We should have seen right then that it was over, but that’s what we do as fans.  We root and hope and we stand by our team even though we know the ship is sinking.

I remember another sinking ship called The Bad Boys.  It first started taking on water when the Pistons lost to the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs after winning back to back championships.  The release of Vinnie Johnson started the take down, and the rest is what it was, the end on an era in Detroit Basketball history. This video will bring it all back….

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9YzVTiMY48

As we hope NOT to repeat history of years of mediocrity, we have a common thread that may keep us afloat.  Joe Dumars was there through it all, let’s hope he will do whatever he can to right wrongs and start a new trend instead of following an old one.

We don’t have much longer to wait to see just what we as Pistons fans have to look forward to.

You may know by now that I received a trivia request for a Rap song that made mention of Isiah, Dumars, Laimbeer…ect.  Well I am not sure if this is it, but it’s a gem. Thanks to good friend and Need4Sheed reader Kevin Antcliff (a fellow Detroit blogger) who did all the dirty work for us.  He remembered the song, dug up his VHS (yes he still has it) of Pure Pistons: 1990 NBA Championship and took care of the rest.

A Motor City Classic

Pump it up Pistons

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rsP_Zi8r_I