Category → Pistons History
We had a bit of discussion here last week about whether the Pistons should consider a new arena in downtown Detroit, and I reiterated my belief that, as cool as playing in the city would be, there is absolutely no justification for leaving the Palace.
NBA writer Curtis Harris, who writes for Hardwood Paroxysm, Pro Hoops History and curates the fantastic @ProHoopsHistory twitter feed, among other ventures, has a great post for Bleacher Report today, ranking all of the NBA facilities based on their historical significance. The Palace came in at No. 5 on his list:
This arena likely doesn’t immediately come to mind for historic NBA stadiums, but it truly is one of the jewels of the league. The Detroit Pistons have won three titles while in residence and Hall of Famers like Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, and Dennis Rodman have played in its confines, while Grant Hill, Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace brought in more exciting moments.
When your stadium can say that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Edwards battled it out at center in a Finals game, no way are you sinking below the top 5. Also, the shocking upset of the 2004 Pistons upending the favored Lakers was a treat for all to see in the Finals that year.
I’ll spare you the excerpt where Harris mentions one of the biggest recent moments in the arena (hint: it has something to do with an out-of-nowhere performance by Robert Horry in a fairly significant game). The four arenas that rank in ahead of the Palace are The Staples Center, The United Center, Oracle Arena and (obviously) Madison Square Garden.
I assume there are few strange requests made to Pistons Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman that he hasn’t heard before at this point in his life, but at an event in Chicago over the weekend where fans could play to hang out with him in a bar and watch basketball, an enterprising fan may have surprised even Rodman. Via Matt Lindner of Chicago Red Eye, a fan drove all the way from Oklahoma to have Rodman sign his arm so that he could go get a tattoo of the signature. Rodman happily obliged.
Now that certainly sounds crazy, and despite the fan’s insistence that he’s not crazy, it’s still a little bit crazy. But there’s a sentimentality behind his action that I can appreciate:
For him, this tattoo in particular carries a deeper meaning.
Glenn’s father Gary died three years ago. Watching Rodman bang the boards helped bring father and son closer together over the years. Glenn says that for as crazy as it may sound, having Dennis Rodman’s name permanently etched on his arm helps him feel even closer to his old man.
“When my dad saw Rodman play basketball at Southeastern Oklahoma State University and was drafted by the Pistons, he pointed to Rodman and said ‘son, that’s the way the game is played,’” Glenn said. “If my dad was alive, he probably would’ve gotten the same tattoo. We’re a Rodman family, we just are.”
I’m definitely not going to get Rodman’s name tattooed on me, but I definitely relate to the gesture. Part of the reason I’m so attached to Rodman is similar — he was always one of my dad’s favorite players too, and I can remember my dad saying similar things about the way Rodman played when I was younger.
Former Piston Rasheed Wallace was ejected in less than two minutes in yesterday’s game between the Knicks and Phoenix Suns. After picking up his first technical, his second T-inducing crime was shouting the familiar ‘Ball Don’t Lie!’ after a missed free throw. ‘Sheed also picked up a technical for shouting that during the Knicks-Pistons game earlier this season. As all Pistons fans know, ‘Ball Don’t Lie!’ never used to be worth of a technical in the eyes of officials. Perhaps with the return of ‘Sheed a certain non-Sheed fan who happens to be commissioner sent a memo to officials?
First Popovich, now ‘Sheed. It has been a good week for Stern sticking it to his enemies. If ‘Ball Don’t Lie!’ is indeed dead, that might be Stern’s worst atrocity as commissioner.
I’m 100 percent committed to linking to any quality Rasheed Wallace content, even if it’s not Pistons related. This piece by Netw3rk for The Classical qualifies — it’s not specifically about ‘Sheed and his time with the Pistons, but it’s a great read about what makes him, even at this late stage in his career, incredibly watchable:
We watch because there is a special sort of person who can do things which society-at-large deems to be “wrong”—fighting, marijuana use, disrespect of authority figures, unwillingness to conform to social norms, not-particularly well-kept beards, and so on—and emerge from those repeated transgressions not diminished in the public eye, but with an ever more roguish, anti-heroic magnetism. The usual commentators cluck when Rasheed does the things that Rasheed repeatedly, invariably and unapologetically does—see the parenthetical clause above. But those who truly understand the transgressive thing he’s after, who dare take Rasheed Wallace to the head, find him only more appealing and inspiring to our repressed but un-extinguished inner rebelliousness with each new transgression.
By losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder last night, the Pistons fell to 0-8 – their worst start in franchise history.
I tried to get Dan Feldman to let me do political endorsements on PistonPowered today, but probably the only thing I’m more ignorant about than basketball analysis is political analysis. So in lieu of that, here are a few Pistons connections to the political world.
Joe Dumars’ reputation has taken some hits in recent years as the luster of building a championship team from scratch becomes a distant memory with every DNP-CD sustained by prized 2009 signing Charlie Villanueva. But putting aside those recent criticisms, at one time, there was no GM in the NBA or maybe even in sports who was as highly regarded as Dumars. His rep was so pristine that the state Democratic party tried to recruit him when they were looking for a big name candidate in 2010:
Statewide political analyst Tim Skubick, whose work appears in a number of media outlets, says if one-time Piston shooting guard Dave Bing can be mayor of Detroit, then there’s no reason that another Piston shooting guard — Joe Dumars — can’t be governor of Michigan.
“Stack him up against the want ad and you have a potential blockbuster of a candidate that would not only set this town on its ear, but produce enough buzz to give the D’s a better than even chance to hang onto the governor’s chair,” Skubick writes in a blog for The Oakland Press.
He writes that since Lt. Gov. John Cherry dropped out of the race, the Democrats need a big name to possibly swing the state’s vote.
“There are some people in the Democratic Party who say that this is not an act of desperation,” Skubick told Fox 2 this morning.
As far-fetched as that scenario sounded — Dumars had never publicly even expressed support for one party or the other — that story picked up enough steam that Dumars actually had to issue a ‘thanks but no thanks’ statement to quell the rumors.
He wasn’t the only Bad Boy to get recruited though. The Republicans reportedly wanted Bill Laimbeer to run for office in 1998:
Former basketball bad boy Bill Laimbeer says politics is too rough and mean for him, so he’s rebuffing efforts to recruit him as a Republican congressional candidate.
Laimbeer, a member of the Detroit Pistons from 1981-94 and member of its championship teams in 1989 and 1990, owns a packaging business.
Laimbeer, 40, has attended the party’s national convention and helped raise money for Republican U.S. Sen. Spencer Abraham.
State Republican spokesman Greg McNeilly said party leaders were trying to recruit Laimbeer to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Dale Kildee.
I’ve lived much of my life in Kildee’s district, and it has never been a competitive one (Dale didn’t seek re-election this term, but his nephew, Dan Kildee, is likely to win his seat). It would’ve been really interesting to see Laimbeer run. He definitely would’ve been the most intriguing challenger Kildee had, at least in my lifetime.
John Salley also talked about Laimbeer’s staunch political beliefs to the Chicago Tribune in 1996:
Both see some basic similarities in the fiber of those Pistons and these Bulls.
“Off the court, everybody likes one another on this team,” Salley said. “Everybody gets along. With Detroit, whatever differences we had, it didn’t matter.
“We had a couple of Democrats and one big Republican, Bill Laimbeer, and different lifestyles. But when we got on the court, we all wanted the same lifestyle. We all wanted the same attitude. It was all about chemistry.”
More recently, former Piston Chauncey Billups was a major, vocal supporter of then-Senator Obama during the 2008 election. My friend and friend of the blog Pardeep Toor once interviewed Billups about why he got involved in the campaign:
”Obviously, I’ve been blessed enough where I’m not in the middle class anymore but all of my family is, all of my peoples is. I was middle to lower class coming up,” Billups said. “That’s who I’m fighting for not for me, I’ve been blessed enough, I’m fighting for everybody else in the neighborhoods.”
And of course, living in Michigan, we all know the most obvious example, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. We won’t get into all the problems Mayor Bing has on his plate right now though.
At any rate, consider this your reminder to vote today, if you’re into that sort of thing. Oh, and I’m not one of those people who gets all riled about mixing sports and politics. I love it when they mix. So feel free to post all of your crazy political diatribes in this thread. In fact, the crazier the better.
Richard Hamilton didn’t have a good season with the Bulls last season, struggling with injuries and inconsistency. He’s off to a much better start this season, and via Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago, part of the explanation is a familiar one … someone made him mad:
The 34-year-old Chicago Bulls sharpshooter dropped 19 points on the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday night, getting an unexpected jolt from some fans in the process during a torrid third-quarter stretch in which he went 7-for-8 from the field.
“Some dude in the crowd called me old, that’s what woke me up,” Hamilton said. “He called me Old Man Rivers, some dude behind me. So I was like, “All right, I’ve got something for you.”
Hamilton’s last couple seasons in Detroit were filled with a similar phenomena — Dan Feldman named and wrote about it a few times. Hamilton would struggle with his shot or not play particularly well for a stretch, then he’d get benched or something would happen that would make him mad and he’d miraculously drop 35 off the bench or something like that. Since the Bulls are paying Hamilton, they should invest in someone whose job is simply pissing Hamilton off a couple times each week.
I don’t think you’ll find a Piston fan anywhere who doesn’t root hard for Antonio McDyess, and according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!, we might get one more chance to see McDyess chase that elusive championships:
McDyess, 38, has been working out in Houston and has instructed his agent, Andy Miller, to gauge league interest in him.
“He would consider coming back and I will be reaching out to select teams,” Miller told Yahoo! Sports on Thursday night.
The obvious fit for him is Miami. The Heat are always on the lookout for veteran bigs to fill out their bench and McDyess’ ability to hit a 15-footer would work quite nicely with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade (yeah, yeah … anyone who can hit an open 15-footer would probably work out pretty well next to those two, but still). I’m sure some of the usual suspects who go hunting for veteran help will be in play as well — San Antonio, Boston, Lakers or maybe even a reunion with Chauncey Billups with the Clippers would be a consideration. At any rate, it would be excellent to have both Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess back in the league. Now Ben Wallace just needs to find a team.
The WNBA announced Thursday that Bill Laimbeer would take over as the new coach and general manager of the New York Liberty. Laimbeer hinted to Mechelle Voepel of espnW that he waited for a NBA opportunity that never materialized:
“I left the WNBA because I had a plan for the NBA, and for whatever reason — it’s still unclear to me — the plan didn’t work out,” Laimbeer, 55, said. “So I spent the last year here [in Florida] competing against fish and the golf course. I’m a competitive person and like the competition of basketball, so I wanted to get back into it.
“Part of what happened in the NBA will still always stick with me, just because I think I could be very successful in the NBA. But I’ve made a commitment here, and I think I can be very successful with the Liberty. … Being in basketball and keeping sharp as far as managing a game and winning games — that’s what I enjoy and what I want to do.”
Laimbeer interviewed for the Pistons head coaching job last summer before Lawrence Frank was hired and spent a couple seasons in Minnesota as an assistant to Kurt Rambis.
Laimbeer’s knowledge of the game is unparalleled. He’s one of the smartest players who ever played. Although I certainly expressed that I didn’t like the idea of him coaching the Pistons — I don’t like the idea of any downtrodden hometown team hiring a beloved former player as hiring any coach always leads to having to fire that coach — but he clearly deserves another opportunity in the NBA, at the very least as an assistant.
Politics could play a role in Laimbeer not getting that opportunity, but he’s hardly the only big name former player to have a rough go of it trying to break into NBA coaching. Patrick Ewing has been a longtime assistant and he’s yet to land the head coaching job he craves (interestingly, the Pistons also interviewed him for their head coaching vacancy last year). Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Scottie Pippen have also tried to break into coaching in recent years only to find little interest in their services.
Pistons legend Bill Laimbeer, who led the Detroit Shock to two championships as head coach, has been named the new coach and general manager of the New York Liberty, according to a WNBA news release:
“We’re excited to have Bill Laimbeer join the New York Liberty as our general manager and head coach. He has brought his winning pedigree and passion to the WNBA and I believe he will play a large role in bringing a championship to the Liberty,” said Allan Houston, the New York Knicks’ assistant GM, who also oversees Liberty basketball operations. “We appreciate Coach Whisenant’s dedication to our team and the organization, and wish him well in the future.”
“I am very excited to return to the WNBA, and for the opportunity to join the New York Liberty,” Laimbeer said. “I missed the competitive fire of players like Cappie Pondexter and Plenette Pierson, two hard-nosed competitors for the Liberty. The commitment of our fans and the City will be invaluable in our quest to bring a WNBA championship to New York. After all, that’s really all that counts.”
Laimbeer spent time with the Minnesota Timberwolves as an assistant coach on the staff of Kurt Rambis and he interviewed for the Pistons’ head coaching job before Lawrence Frank was hired.
In addition to Pierson, who Laimbeer mentioned in his quote above, the Liberty also feature Kara Braxton, who also played for Laimbeer with the Shock before the franchise moved to Tulsa. And let’s just not talk about what has happened to that team since they arrived in Tulsa.
I’m not going to pretend to be a WNBA analyst or anything, but I think a few things are pretty clear based on his Shock tenure: Laimbeer will find talent, he will likely win big in this league and he will do it the way Pistons fans who watched Laimbeer as a player would expect him to do it.