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Tayshaun Prince, jack of all trades, even the ones he didn’t necessarily want

In today’s column for the Free Press, I wrote about Tayshaun Prince and, specifically, how he was whatever the Pistons asked him to be, even when he didn’t really want to be those things:

Since 2009, it seems, the Pistons have been on a quest to find a replacement for Prince. That task shouldn’t be hard — Prince, though solid, is hardly a star. It’s not asking a lot for a young player to simply out-play him, and yet despite a steady stream of young players taken in the draft and capable of playing the small forward spot — Austin Daye, Jonas Jerebko, DaJuan Summers, Kyle Singler — no one has been able to surpass Prince’s modest production enough to take his job.

In that context, it’s easy to sympathize with Prince. He earned his way into a lineup, he had a solid career for some great Pistons teams and he’s held off yearly attempts to find younger replacements by simply being the consistently decent, durable player he has always been. Not only did he hold off the ‘competition’ from those players, he was also asked to serve a sort of mentor role to the very players the team was hoping would replace him in the lineup.

He was also asked to be a primary option on offense when he’d spent his entire career being a fourth or fifth option. The results weren’t pretty — no one enjoyed the ‘Isolayshaun’ offense — but Prince did the best he could. He worked for good shots and he rarely turned the ball over.



  • Feb 1, 201312:16 pm
    by Crispus


    Sleep well, sweet Prince.

  • Feb 1, 201312:17 pm
    by piston moribund


    Been watching the Pistons for two and a half full cycles now of winning and losing.  Showing my age.  I will have a team to root for during the playoffs.  Go Grizzlies.  At least he and the others will end on a more positive note.  Unlike the sunset years of Joe D.  Losing must have taken a toll on Joe during the twilight of his career to break up the original five so soon.  To dispel the contempt that comes from losing.
    I think that in retrospect, the five(except Ben) will be thankful for the opportunity to go out at least on somewhat of a winning note, to experience the playoffs again before the end of their careers instead on milling about on a team going no where, like the Celtics are putting Garnett and Pierce through.  Allen is obviously the smart and less sentimental one there.  As much as I hate the Celtics, it is still sad to see.
    Maybe its also because Joe recognizes the fact that this current collect of players not yet a  team still has a long ways to go before there are legit.  Or maybe its me breathing a bit of collective humanity into the GM and this business of impersonal decisions, in spite of all his foolish and boneheaded moves.  Its always business, but sometimes its personal. 
    Prince will be missed, in spite of it all.

  • Feb 1, 201312:44 pm
    by Ryank


    I’m wondering who’s going to take the clutch shots now.  Tay seems to find the ball in his hands late in games and late in the shot clock on a regular basis.  Both Stuckey and Knight have taken and made shots down the stretch in the past, but they will now need to perform in the clutch on a regular basis.  We’ll see who’s up to the challenge.

  • Feb 1, 20131:01 pm
    by Geoff


    Prince departure says to me that the Pistons believe that Singler is ready to fill that role.  I hate to see Prince go, because I think he was a force of stability for a long stretch.  I also appreciate how tough it must have been to have played for John Kuester.  Looking forward, the Pistons free up a lot of money and seem content with thier SF options.  Prince will get to compete in the playoffs, and I expect he will gel fast with his new team.

  • Feb 1, 20131:08 pm
    by frankie d


    off topic, but espn has a huge spread on drummond this morning.  this is a link to just one of the articles on him.  
    he’s hit the big time.
    maybe the coach will notice.

  • Feb 1, 20132:02 pm
    by Mr.BlockedShot


    Thank you for the memories Tayshaun. Bad to see the last member of the ’04 championship team leave the organisation but I think this was the best move for both him and the team. He will have another runs for the tittle in a better team. Good luck in the playoffs

  • Feb 1, 20132:24 pm
    by frankie d


    while it was clearly time for tay to go, this pistons fan will definitely miss him.
    in lots of ways, he was my favorite member of the title team, especially because of the way he crashed into the starting line up in the orlando playoff series.
    he was crucial to shutting tracey mcgrady up that series, which was especially sweet cause mcgrady has long been one of my least favorite players.
    i always thought that the team ultimately misused him – so what else is new? – as i thought he could be a sixth man of the year because of his extreme versatility.
    your point guard getting burned?
    tay could replace him and run the point for a quarter and play sticky defense on most guards.
    going small?
    tay could slide over to the PF spot for a while.
    your shooting guard not shooting well?
    tay could take over at the 2 spot for a while.
    your SF need a blow?
    he could play his natural SF spot.
    he ended up doing all of those things, while a starter, but he could have been even more valuable, imho, off the bench, because he could provide whatever was necessary.
    so yea, his absence will take some getting accustomed to. 
    but the team will definitely pick up its pace and the other guys will develop faster as they won’t always defer to tay and the coach won’t be able to just toss the ball to tay when he needs a bucket.
    now, i’m just waiting for the day when he returns as coach of the pistons.
    he’s one of those guys you can easily see – like derek fisher – sitting on a bench as an nba head coach.
    and he’ll probably be a damn good one.  one other thing i’ll miss are the incredibly subtle, but stilleto-focused jabs he took at every piston coach after larry brown.  if you didn’t listen or read the words carefully – except for the buffoonery comment – most times you’d never know he’d just thrown his head coach under the bus. 

  • Feb 1, 20132:53 pm
    by sloppy joe


    Have always loved prince, and I will miss seeing him play.  Age means nothing to me.  Sure he was in his 30′s but the guy could play solid defense and was always a staple on the offensive end.

    Most of all I will miss seeing his lanky ass trotting down the court.  To be honest I will even miss his mad at the world I hate everything and am better than everyone attitude.  Kind of brought the bad by element to the Pistons for all these years. I think we will miss the playoffs without him.

    I hope he gets along with his new teammates   He can play better defense than Gay so I would love nothing more to see this Grizzlies improved with Prince in the starting lineup and win the Championship.

    May his legacy be remembered as more than just the first black guy on the planet to have freckles.

  • Feb 1, 20133:10 pm
    by Clint in Flint


    The first time I saw Prince I wondered why we drafted this bag of bones,I figured he would be on the injured list most of the time. I don’t remember the number of games he played before missing one but I believe it was over 400. I’ll miss him.

  • Feb 1, 20133:30 pm


    dont know if I agree… unless you are talking about practice and reputation…I feel Jonas, Daye and Jerbko would all have taken Prince spot based off of minutes and overall production

  • Feb 1, 20133:30 pm
    by Bruce


    Tay will be back after his career is over. Front office for him and maybe coaching?
    Ultimate teammate 

    You will always be my dude Tay Tay!

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