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My first Pistons game, by Lisa Gentile

My friend Lisa went to her first-ever Pistons game when they played the Bobcats last week, and she was kind enough to write about about the experience for PistonPowered. –Dan

I spent a lot of time making excuses for why the Pistons game was just so-so.

It was a Wednesday.

They were playing a small-time team.

There had been a huge snow storm that day — though anyone who’s lived in Michigan long enough could tell you that was nothing.

But after talking with my dad and brother, I realized why it could never live up to the hype. Remember the early 2000s when Detroit always made the Eastern Conference finals? In high school, I watched Pistons games every weekend with my friends. I can’t tell you the last time I even bothered to check the score of a game. I just assumed they lost.

I decided to go to my first Pistons game because I had a visiting co-worker in town from Brazil. The Wings were out of town and we had already taken her to a University of Michigan hockey game, so a basketball game seemed like the best option.

I searched for tickets on the Pistons’ website and was surprised to see they were offering a 2-for-$19 deal, plus $1 hotdogs. How could I say no?

We showed up right before the 7:30 tipoff and easily parked close to the arena for just $10. After surprising my co-worker with the tickets, we picked up our “Retro Gear” that came with the 2-for-$19 deal. We had the choice of bobble heads or a Chris Webber jersey. After realizing the jersey would have been more of a dress than shirt on me, I chose a bobble head.

The pre-game festivities were just starting when we got to our seats. This was the one thing that was better than watching on television. My Brazilian co-worker screamed when the flames went off, and we could feel the heat all the way in the upper level. The Pistons definitely put on a good pre-game show. I wish that energy continued through the whole game.

After the fire was extinguished and the smoke started to clear, I realized there were barely a handful of people in each section. In an arena that could fit 22,000, there were maybe 2,000-3,000 people at the game. The interest level was minimal, too. A kid sitting in front of me had headphones on and was playing with his Game Boy — this was Detroit Basketball?

Keeping with the “Retro Night” theme, they played a number of Beatles songs. Automotion danced to bunch of songs that I liked, but my favorite performance of the night went to the "Spare Tires," fat old men dancing — YES! They had me until the end, when they took off their shirts. That was a little too far.

A Pistons girl came to our section during the middle of first quarter (dressed in Beatles attire) and tried to start some cheers. I felt bad for her, because people weren’t really participating. The loudest I cheered was when they were passing out lotto tickets. The same girl came back to our section and awarded the “big ticket” to the most energetic fan. There was no one in my section, so I felt like I had a legitimate chance, but she must have remembered how I ignored her earlier and chose someone else. Later, when they passed out free pizza I also got into the spirit of things, but unfortunately they passed up my section again.

Toward the end of the game, I saw that they had a coupon for T.G.I. Friday’s on the back of the tickets. Too bad it expired Dec. 31, 2010. It was February 2, 2011…

I thought the Pistons’ might have a chance to win, but they quickly lost speed during the third quarter, and it was downhill from there. The final score was 97-87, Charlotte – nothing to write home about.

Post-game, we had a chance to shoot a free throw. It only cost $1, and it went to charity. I’m the furthest thing from athletic, but since both of my co-workers wanted to try, I decided to join them. They quickly herded us through line, trying to keep people on the court for the least amount of time possible. I let my co-workers go first and took a picture of each of them, definitely a good keepsake to take back to Brazil. The two guys in front of me missed both of their shots, so when it was finally my turn, I felt better as I watched my attempt barely graze the bottom of the net.

At least I left The Palace with a new addition to my work desk: the Isiah Thomas bobble head.


  • Feb 8, 20114:02 pm
    by Steve Kays


    Regarding the TGI Friday’s coupon, they are actually still valid even though the printed date has passed. Apparently there was some screw up somewhere, but you can still use them.

  • Feb 8, 20114:11 pm
    by jj


    That snowstorm was enormous and was responsible for those attendance numbers. Not to say a lot of what Lisa talks about isn’t true, but downplaying the importance of the storm destroys the credibility of the report. The storm shut side streets entirely down, major roads were dangerous if not totally un-navigable, and it simply wasn’t safe to drive that night. Considering most Pistons fans have to drive 10-50 miles up to the Palace, that was a big deal.
    As is, with statements like ‘anyone who’s lived in Michigan long enough could tell you that (the snowstorm) was nothing,’ no one should take seriously the claim that this was a representative game.

    • Feb 8, 20118:12 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      JJ, I drove from Flint. By that time, the roads had been cleared. I was talking with Natalie from Need4Sheed, and she said that was fairly typical turnout for a Wednesday game — snowstorm or not.

    • Feb 8, 20118:43 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      Yeah, check the turnout for tonight’s game, with roads that are fine, against the best team in the NBA and the turnout looks to be pretty similar to what was described at the Charlotte game. The Pistons aren’t drawing well and the arena does lack energy. It has for almost three seasons now, really.

  • Feb 8, 201110:03 pm
    by jj


    I agree the Palace lacks energy and isn’t like it used to be but let’s not create a caricature–there’s much more than 2000 people at every normal Pistons game.

  • [...] Going to a Pistons game isn’t what it used to be, nor is it what some expect. [...]

  • Feb 10, 20112:38 pm
    by Vinnie_Da_Microwaver


    Sounds like someone’s making excuses.  The atmosphere is tomb-like.

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