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Mouthy Bulls fans, abundance of soft play not a good look for the current Pistons with so many Pistons greats in the building

In the late 1990s, there were a lot of Pistons-Bulls games at the Palace that were lopsided affairs featuring uninterested fans who couldn’t get behind a home team whose immediate future seemed bleak. There wasn’t a lot to root for in some of those seasons.

Still though, I don’t ever remember a ‘MVP’ chant breaking out for Michael Jordan when he, unlike Derrick Rose, was the unquestioned king of the league. But that’s exactly what happened in Friday’s loss to Chicago. The crowd, which let’s face it, was really only there to cheer Dennis Rodman and his former Bad Boys teammates, wasn’t that into the game. Rose stepped to the free throw line early, and all of a sudden, an overwhelming ‘MVP’ chant broke out all over the arena. It caught me (and from the sounds of it most of the other Pistons fans in attendance) off guard. I didn’t realize walking into the Palace that there were that many Bulls fans piling in, but I was basically surrounded by them in my section. I heard it and couldn’t believe it was happening. On Rodman’s night you clowns are gonna do this?

But it’s the sad part of doing business these days as Pistons fans. The Bulls are really good and a tough ticket, Detroit is not a huge distance from Chicago and the opposite of a tough ticket. Plus, the man the Pistons were honoring just so happens to be a pretty popular former Bull as well. We shouldn’t have been surprised a horde of Chicago fans were there, but that MVP chant made a Pistons crowd that already wasn’t very excited about the game itself less so, and despite the fact that the Pistons made some runs to keep the game competitive, one of the larger crowds this season just didn’t invest much into what was going on on the court.

The Pistons didn’t play terribly, they just never seemed like they could win this game, even the few times when the score got close. And that’s what made Dennis Rodman’s halftime speech so great.

For those who didn’t watch, Rodman was emotional, he was funny and he was grateful. At times, it was hard for him to get the words he was trying to say out. But the part of his speech that was clear as day, that was unmistakable, was when he turned his attention to the corner of the court where the current Pistons were standing after emerging from locker room. He told them, point blank, that Bill Davidson, Chuck Daly, Jack McClosky, Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer, Vinnie Johnson, James Edwards, John Salley, Rick Mahorn, Rodman himself and the others who were a part of the team’s success in the 1980s and 1990s had built a foundation of something great not just for themselves, but for the city of Detroit and state of Michigan, for their families and, this is important, for future generations of Pistons players to be proud of.

Rodman didn’t say it, but the implication was clear: what has been happening on the court for the Pistons the last few seasons is simply unacceptable. It’s not just that the team hasn’t played well. It’s that the team has played with so little effort and so little toughness, it has done a great disservice to the connection the Bad Boys built with the fans by punishing their bodies, by diving into the stands recklessly after loose balls, by sacrificing everything they had to win. Rodman gave so much to the game while he was on the court. There have been plenty of excuses floated for why the Pistons have fallen so far. But they clearly lack any player who cares the way Rodman or his teammates cared. They clearly play a very passionless brand of basketball.

Throughout the night, numerous clips of Rodman and the Bad Boys played. I found myself hoping the Pistons young players were stealing glances of what was going on on the screen. If they were too entrenched in the game or whatever it is John Kuester says in huddles, so be it. I hope someone gives them a copy of the the footage. My biggest beef with the Pistons this season has not been that they are losing. Teams are entitled to lose and to rebuild, and we had a nice nearly 10-year run of successful basketball to watch, even if it was broken up a bit prematurely. The team has been unwatchable, the Palace has been devoid of energy, because no one on the roster plays the way players on those old Pistons teams did. No one plays like basketball is fun. No one dives all over the floor. No one even seems that upset by the lack of success the team has had. There are plenty of reasons for all of those things. I’m not in their locker room, dealing with behind the scenes business that they have to deal with. Even if the failings of the team start with the people who assembled it in the first place, the reason the fans are disinterested starts and ends with the lack of passion displayed on the court. I hope the players saw the reception Rodman received tonight. This was a man who was not always well-received in Detroit — the rocky ending of his Detroit career alienated a lot of fans, and seeing him on the Bulls certainly didn’t endear him either. But he’s still beloved here simply because he always played like he gave a damn.

Cheers for everyone at halftime. Almost.

There were two decidedly uncomfortable moments at halftime during the ceremony. As loudly as the crowd cheered for most every special guest who came to show love for their former teammate, it booed just as loudly when George Blaha introduced Karen Davidson and Joe Dumars.

It wasn’t unexpected. In fact, Davidson and Dumars both seemed like they were prepared for it to happen. I get why it happened. I still wish it didn’t though.

Davidson is not in a great position. She doesn’t have the love and passion for the team that her husband did and doesn’t want to be involved in the day to day business of being responsible for a major pro sports franchise. I think every reasonable person can appreciate that. Fans are frustrated because the sale of the team has moved so slowly, and this was perhaps the only chance to voice that displeasure to Davidson personally. But she loves this team because her husband loved it, I assume. It’s still important to her, I assume. Just not important enough to her where she wants the responsibility of running it. But it’s also valuable. I don’t think anyone who owned something so valuable, with the added sentimental value because of how much the team meant to her husband, wants to just give it away. It’s taking longer than anyone would like it to to complete this, but Davidson didn’t have to be here tonight. She likely knew what was going to happen when they introduced her. Yet she still did the right thing, showed up and supported on behalf of her family a man who meant a lot to her husband’s organization. Even if she deserves to be booed, she didn’t deserve to be booed tonight.

Dumars? I won’t bother launching any kind of defense of his GM record. There are enough flaws on it that have been fleshed out in every seedy corner (and there are a lot of them) of the internet. It hurt to see Dumars get booed. He was one of the best athletes in the history of this state. He was sitting with a team that won two championships in large part due to his efforts. He wasn’t Dumars the GM sitting up there. Dumars the player deserved every bit of the ovation his former teammates received tonight.

18 Comments

  • Apr 2, 201112:38 am
    by bball4224

    Reply

    i was laughing at them booing Karen, but i was ticked when they booed Joey D and did the MVP chant, there arn’t many fans now adays, they just wanna come out and see the stars. Like the Heat games, they sellout and i seriously think most of the fans at those games would rather see us get dominated than the alternative… sad. The fans have been blessed w/ our winning for soo long that we infally have to rebuild and they act like the franchise is over.

  • Apr 2, 201112:38 am
    by bball4224

    Reply

    i was laughing at them booing Karen, but i was ticked when they booed Joey D and did the MVP chant, there arn’t many fans now adays, they just wanna come out and see the stars. Like the Heat games, they sellout and i seriously think most of the fans at those games would rather see us get dominated than the alternative… sad. The fans have been blessed w/ our winning for soo long that we finally have to rebuild and they act like the franchise is over.

  • Apr 2, 20111:22 am
    by @Pistolino

    Reply

    Those booing have no class, but I can hardly be surprised by this when basic sporting events manners are not known by many who attend games anymore.

    The beginning of the number retirement ceremony is NOT the right time to decide you need to troop up and down the stairs for the bathroom or food.  I don’t get it – a group of Pistons legends on the floor, but you’re leaving so you can bring back some nasty nachos and be back in your seat to watch the mediocre 2010-2011 Pistons play?  

  • Apr 2, 20111:25 am
    by Peter D. Brown

    Reply

    Yo! The crowd didn’t boo Joe D. They were yelling DUUUUUUUmars.
    Also, you’re totally over-exaggerating the number and voracity of the Bulls fans there. Yes, there was a clear chant of MVP in the first quarter when he shot free throws, but this was after he had scored several baskets in a row. During the fourth, when the Bulls fans in the arena tried to start the chant again, their voices were stifled by the boos of all of the Detroit fans in the crowd. They couldn’t get a consistent MVP chant out again.
    You guys are totally blowing this out of proportion.

    • Apr 2, 20119:26 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Yo!

      Gimme a break. Maybe there were some Duuuuumars mixed in eventually. But the initial response was a very clear ‘boooo’.

      And I’m not over-exaggerating anything. In my section, there were a total of five Pistons fans and more than 30 Bulls fans immediately around us. I was also facing the Bulls basket in the first half, and directly behind it was a large group of people wearing Bulls gear. I have no way of knowing how many Bulls fans were actually there, my point was just that it was really annoying that a MVP chant for a Bulls player broke out on a night with the former Pistons greats in the building.

      • Apr 2, 201112:21 pm
        by @Pistolino

        Reply

        Patrick, I agree, there was no Duuuu-mars…it was booing.  I was also in a section with a ton of Bulls fans cheering every basket and chanting MVP, a sea of red and black.

  • Apr 2, 20118:12 am
    by Marvin Jones

    Reply

    I agree with Peter, I think they were doing the DUUUUUUUmars thing, I don’t think they were booing

    • Apr 2, 20119:28 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      It was both. There was a very loud, clear ‘booo!’ when he was first introduced. Then other people piped up to drown it out with cheers or the Duuuumars thing. But to pretend like the booing didn’t happen is just not an honest account of what went on.

  • Apr 2, 201111:13 am
    by gordbrown

    Reply

    To ride my own personal hobby horse again … There are Pistons who bring it every night. Their names are Rodney Stuckey and Greg Monroe. Daye is wildly inconsistent but that is due to a number of factors – youth, lack of bulk, inconsistent usage and the requirement that he play at three different positions – not because he isn’t trying. Bynum also brings it, usually at home but still. Yet Stuckey somehow has to come off the bench and Bynum gets to play only occasionally, while other players who don’t bring it get to start. If you were Ben Gordon, would you bring it? Knowing even if he does, as soon as he gets warm he’s going to get yanked? One player on the team has been bringing it for the first quarter (although he is also turning the ball over regularly throughout the game) and disappearing after that, yet he is getting the majority of the playing time. How can you expect a team to bring it with perverse incentives like that? Time to dismount now.

  • Apr 2, 201112:19 pm
    by Larry

    Reply

    Patrick,
     
    I was there and when I heard the booing, I cringed.  I didn’t boo, but I think I loud expression for dissatisfaction was totally justified:
     
    1) The Rodman night was well deserved, but also a marketing scheme to produce a large crowd, during a listless season.  I’m OK with that, but to cloak Joe, Mrs. D, or the evening in nostalgia should not blur the obvious– The Bad Boy and Go to Work brand has been decimated.  This team bears no resemblance to the beloved teams of the past.  And ownership/management is completely responsible. Joe Dumars, GM, is the architect for this dislikable crew he has SYSTEMATICALLY assembled.
    2) Why give ownership a pass because they are selling.  Why should I, a seasons ticket holder, be worried that Mrs. D. gets a good deal, or the sale price hits the NBA numbers or anything else?  I think that it is outrageous that we excuse anyone for putting the roster in a holding pattern.  When I bout tickets this season, no one told me that, “Oh by the way, there will be no attempt to improved the team if it is lousy.  You know, with the sale and all . . . .”
    3) I am offended that ownership and management have made so little communication with the fans.  There have been no pledges, explanations, just pretty much silence.  We should just trust them, that even though the coach has lost control of players who have pretty much lost everyone’s respect by their lack of professionalism, we should assume that some how the folks at the Palace are doing their best.
    I don’t like feeling so bitter, but after the past three seasons, I’ve lost the faith.
     
     

    • Apr 2, 201112:37 pm
      by @Pistolino

      Reply

      I’m also a season ticket holder and I agree with everything you’ve said.  I am disgusted by what I feel is a lack of reality on the part of the NBA/Karen/the consulting group in that they expect someone who is a good businessman to overpay for the franchise.  Who does that?  If my house is worth $200K and I list it for $300K, it isn’t going to sell.  Same with the Pistons.  Tom Gores is not in the charity business, he wants to buy a viable business.  For Karen to complain that she’s “frustrated” by the process of his people asking for more financial information – well it’s just ridiculous.  If you have nothing to hide, provide the requested information.  But the NBA is all about inflating value, inflating attendance numbers, why should the books be any different?  I seriously wonder if the team is even a profit-maker anymore.

      Part of the night was clearly a last-ditch effort for the sales staff to appease the ticket holders by providing a meet and greet and a photo with Dennis.  I had people asking my name, shaking my hand, the whole bit.  Two weeks before, I got an in-seat visit by my sales rep.  This stuff should have been going on all season, but it wasn’t.  The middle to low-end seat holders were basically ignored all year, and only when it became clear nobody was renewing and people were angry did the sales staff pay attention.

      The current team itself?  Ugh.  Kuester needed to be fired months ago, the in-team dissention is tiresome (again the over-valuing issue – Rip and Tay overvalued and weren’t traded like they should have been).  Many of the losses this year are due to Kuester and his stupid lineups and his inability to make changes to stop the bleeding when the opposing team is leaving us in the dust.

      • Apr 2, 20113:09 pm
        by Larry

        Reply

        You’re right, @Pistolino.  The sales staff has gone from Chauncey Billups to Chris Wilcox talent level along with the team.  There is a lack of optimism and energy throughout the organization it seems.  Unfortunately, that’s not going to be a quick fix.  And personally, I don’t care to buy a stake in it.  Losing I can take, but only if you can see (or believe someone in charge can see) a light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Apr 2, 201112:27 pm
    by BIG MARV

    Reply

    Man im tired of it the guys dont even respect the piston legends last night and played hard and try to win. Stuckey acting like a baby again and only had 2pts ben gordon dont show up no more and I was pissed that they didnt play big ben on rodman night just to show the guy some defensive respect cause he’s a future piston legend himself. I give tay, rip, greg monroe, and even will bynum respect for playing their ass off last night. They knew what kind of night it was and they showed it through their play. Thank god this season is about over I hope some of these guys never come back to detroit ever.

  • Apr 2, 201112:43 pm
    by bball4224

    Reply

    I just can’t stand the lineups Kuester puts in there, we need a three but instead lets keep going for twos. Villanueva, Gordon, Daye all should be out there when we need threes, Stuckey never should. Why did Stuckey play so much? He brought nothing to the game, he should have been out and Charlie should have been in, the three guard lineup is useless when you play slow. Also you have to surround a three guard lineup with some rebounders or somethin, not Daye and lil Maxy. Back to Dumars, my dad thought they were doin Duuuumars too but idt so, from all the crap i read from fans they act like he has ruined the team and seem to forget the last 10 years and his playing career.

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  • Apr 4, 20111:51 pm
    by Kim Jong Skillz

    Reply

    ms. davidson definitely deserved to get booed & friday night was a perfect opportunity to do it. she refuses to let this deal go through because she wants a few extra dollars? seriously, shes squabbling over her profit margin? she owns the pistons, palace entertainment AND the palace out right. anything she sells it for is PROFIT. its not like they just bought the team yesterday. bill has had that team forever & it has appreciated in value exponentially. if she loved the team & loved what bill loved, she wouldnt be dragging this on as long as it has. shes being a selfish greedy person & the team and fans are the ones who are suffering.

    • Apr 4, 20113:52 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      The perception that she’s holding out for more money is simply wrong. I mean, she might be, but we don’t know.

      The fact is, every single NBA owner has to approve the sale of the team. Even if she wanted to take less to be rid of the team, she couldn’t because other franchises are not going to allow the value of their teams to be impacted by having the Pistons sell for less than what they are worth.

      On top of that, the NBA currently owns one of the league’s franchises, the Hornets. They are trying to sell that team at a profit. There is absolutely no way they would let the Pistons sell at a below market price. Davidson isn’t holding this up, the league is.

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