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John Kuester merits Pistons fans’ support

Think about recent fan-favorite Pistons: Jerome Williams, Ben Wallace, Antonio McDyess, Jonas Jerebko.

Why did everyone like those guys? They weren’t perceived as top players in Detroit.* None of them scored a ton, which is how most players build a following nationally.

*I still think that, roughly, between 2003 and 2005, Ben Wallace was top-three player in the league – behind Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. But he was perceived as a role player, even here, and we’re talking about perception.

Pistons fans loved those guys because they gave it their all – always, totally and unquestionably.*

*Of course, that’s not totally true. No NBA player can last an entire 82-game season without taking a few plays off. But again, we’re talking about perception.

Kuester does the same.

“You can tell how calm I am on the outside. My insides are probably turning a little bit,” Kuester told Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune before the Pistons played the Jazz on Saturday.

Here’s a guy actually coaching his guts out. How can you not love that?

After the Pistons beat the Jazz, according to Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News, Kuester pounded the scorers’ table and yelled, “and said, ‘You’ve got to love this game!" Isn’t that the same type of passion we look for in our favorite players?

So, I ask, why shouldn’t Kuester garner more love from Pistons fans?

With a 49-94 career record, third-worst among active coaches,* Kuester hasn’t set the NBA on fire with his acumen on the sideline. I’d argue his coaching chops have been underrated, but that’s for a different day.

*Leading just Kurt Rambis (53-126) and Tyrone Corbin (1-6)

I understand players and coaches are different.

A team has 13-15 players. There’s plenty of room for flawed, but likable, players.

A team has only one head coach. He must be held to a higher standard.

But that should just apply to when a team is determining whether to hire or fire a coach. Kuester will finish this season, regardless. So, why not get behind him for these final 21 games?

Ask a Pistons fan why they don’t like Kuester, and the answers will vary. He loses too often. He doesn’t communicate well. His rotations are inconsistent.

But I doubt you can find anyone, who, when giving an honest appraisal, would say Kuester isn’t trying his hardest.

Sadly, that likely won’t be enough. Coaches and players, regardless of their effort level, aren’t rewarded unless they produce results.

I was heartbroken when the Pistons traded Williams. I was shocked when Ben Wallace signed with the Bulls. I begrudgingly accepted it when McDyess signed with the Spurs. Before the Pistons let Jerebko, they better add another likable player to the roster, or I might lose my mind.

But I understand why those players haven’t, or in Jerebko’s case, probably won’t, last with the same team for their entire career. They’re expendable.

When the Pistons hired Kuester, I accepted that they’d fire him. That happens to every NBA coach, often more quickly in Detroit.  But even then, it was apparent he probably lacked the skills necessary to succeed as an NBA head coach. He’s just as expandable.

But like Williams, Wallace, McDyess and Jerebko, Kuester is giving it his all, anyway.

That’s a rare trait on this team.

The Pistons aren’t fun to support. They have so few desirable options, when Kuester started his send-a-message lineup against the 76ers, he had to start Charlie Villanueva. Charlie Villanueva! The same guy who had just retweeted a negative message about Kuester a couple days before.

So, I ask, why aren’t you rooting for Kuester?

Don’t think he’ll ever develop into a coaching star? That’s fine. But I doubt many Pistons expect Jerebko to develop into a playing star. That hasn’t stopped anyone from rooting for him.

The odds are against Kuester. The fans shouldn’t be, too.


  • Mar 1, 20112:22 pm
    by JayG108


    I hope Joe keeps Q.  Q is a gentlemen and has been given a bad rap.

    The reports that he didn’t explain to Rip why he was going to sit were unfounded.  No explanation is needed since Rip openly mocked and abused his coach.  Q was actually saving Rip’s but by not going public with the story.
    He started winning when he sat Rip.  A good coaching move, which was painful for him to make.  He did the political thing and played Rip for months, but Rip didn’t show.
    He moved T-Mac to point.  Great move.

    His only fault is that he’s not liked by the players.  Oh well.  Some of them are actually turning out to be terrible human beings (if the reports of mutiny and public humiliation of the coach are true)  and won’t be on the team next season.
    If Joe gets some $$$$ and does some work over the offseason, then Q will have a winning record.  (cut Tay loose Joe!)

    • Mar 1, 20117:48 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      Jay, not the first first comment I expected. Obviously, I mostly agree.

      I think, with the Rip fiasco, Kuester learned a lesson about being an NBA head coach. Regardless of how obvious Rip’s benching was, Kuester should have sat down with Rip and explained clearly and directly why Rip had lost his rotation spot and what Rip needed to do to earn it back. That would have taken away a lot of Rip’s right to gripe and may have even kept Rip in line. It couldn’t have hurt.

      And I wouldn’t go as far as calling the players terrible human beings. They made a mistake, and they’re obviously not the type of players you want on your team. Their character obviously isn’t flawless. But it doesn’t extend past that.

  • Mar 1, 20113:34 pm
    by Tim


    Well put, how much better can Q be expected to do when he has some players with talent, others with effort and very little overlap.

  • Mar 1, 20116:30 pm
    by Fennis


    The players’ behavior during the season has been inexcusable, but if you think that the player backlash has nothing to do with Kuester as a person or as a coach, you’re nuts. Check this out:
    All rotation spots are up for grabs?! What kind gimmicky, bush-league foolishness is this, with 20 games to go in the season? Clearly, this move was done to pacify recalcitrant Rip, which confirms the rumors that Kuester can’t stand up to his players. Ugh. 60 games in and you don’t have enough information to set your rotation? This is absurd. I’d bet $100 Rip is back in the rotation for no good reason.

    • Mar 1, 20116:58 pm
      by Jeremy


      You think that’s for Rip?
      That is exactly what I want him to do. He’s saying he’s not going to play someone because they’re a veteran or because they have a history with the team. He’s going to choose his players based on effort and results.
      Kudos, I say.

      • Mar 1, 20117:51 pm
        by Dan Feldman


        Exactly. If Rip wants to play, what’s he going to do? Work hard and have a good attitude? That’ll teach Kuester.

    • Mar 1, 20117:50 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      Emphasizing competition? Making players earn minutes? Giving a team full of players with checkered resumes a fresh start? Yeah, sounds awful.

  • Mar 1, 20116:45 pm
    by Dell


    The only reason the Pistons “acted out,” was that they do understand how coaching works in Detroit. Right now, Hamilton and Prince have much more job security than Dumars and his latest coach of the week. Don’t be too suprised that if, when sold, the Pistons make a move to reacquire Chauncy. Detroit loves returning former glory stars. The new ownership may just do what works in Detroit during rebuilding years- a familiar face. Like I said, my money says that Hamilton has much better odds of being a Piston next year than Kuester.

    • Mar 1, 20117:54 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      Dell, Hamilton and Prince have more job security because they’re paid more than the coach. That’s basically true everywhere in the NBA. You don’t think Kobe could get Phil Jackson fired or Tim Duncan could get Gregg Popovich fired?

      I’m not sure where you get the idea the Pistons would especially want Billups back. The Pistons brought back Ben Wallace and Rick Mahorn with the idea of them being backups. Two guys in 15 years doesn’t made a trend.

  • Mar 1, 20116:48 pm
    by Dan


    @Fennis: I read that completely the opposite way. To quote AI: “We’re talking about practice.” I hear a willingness to play guys that had been relegated to the bench, if they out-hustle everybody else in practice.
    As to bush-league … well, I’d say this particular team has asked for it.

  • Mar 1, 20118:38 pm
    by Fennis


    Dan — Vincent Goodwill read it the same way I did, but it’s obviously open to interpretation. However, I’m not sure why you would make a PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT that yo planned to play the guys that are playing well in practice and have a good attitude. I mean, is that a newsworthy coaching philosophy or worthy of a public declaration. He is folding to Rip’s whining and just put a nail in his coffin in terms of future head coaching jobs and general respectability throughout the league.
    If you remember, Rip was benched for his play and the Pistons surged immediately after his benching. To hit the reset button as though none of that matters makes Kuester look like a clown. I don’t like his coaching, but I thought benching Rip had proven to be his best (and most gutsy move to date), and it worked! My theory is that he hit “reset” for political rather than basketball purposes. To me, there is no other plausible way to read it. Like Goodwill, I think it makes him look like a fool. I hate to use such harsh language but this is downright silly.

    • Mar 2, 20113:42 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      Fennis, you don’t succeed as an NBA coach by being right. You succeed by making it work. About five players, if you wanted to take a hardline stance, wouldn’t play the rest of the season. All of them were in the rotation, and three were starters. You can’t just forsake them. Kuester did the savvy thing by paving a road for their return.
      Since removing Rip from the rotation (no including the two games against the Bucks he played), the Pistons are 9-14. I’d hardly call that surging.

  • Mar 1, 20118:40 pm
    by Fennis


    Dujuan Summers? Really?

  • Mar 2, 20118:07 pm
    by kashmeer


    Glad to read some support for Q
    Looking at his basketball resume I wonder what could possibly RIP & Tay teach him bball wise..

    great work guys

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