Category → Pistons 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.
Rasheed Wallace’s signing with the Knicks has been a long time coming. In fact, Wallace’s apparent desire to join the Knicks was a factor when the Pistons traded for him in 2004. Chad Ford of ESPN at the time:
The Pistons added one of the better low-post scorers in the league in Wallace, a point guard in James who has actually outperformed the guy they shipped out (Atkins), and they cleared nearly $9 million in cap room earmarked for restricted free agent Mehmet Okur.
The ability to re-sign Okur is the ultimate prize for Detroit. A Pistons source told Insider that the team gave no assurances to Wallace that it would re-sign him this summer. Instead, the Pistons are protecting the extra $4.5 million in cap room they just cleared to make sure that another team under the cap, such as Utah, Phoenix or Denver, can’t steal Mehmet away.
Here’s the bad news for those thinking that Thursday’s trade means that one of them are available. Pistons president Joe Dumars wants to re-sign both Wallace and Okur this summer if they both get along over the next 30 plus games.
Sources claim that Wallace has already sent out feelers out about staying in Detroit, quashing the notion that he’ll only play for the Knicks this season. With the Pistons looking at between $9 and $11 million in cap room, can Joe D get it done?
We all know how the story ends. Wallace and Okur helped Detroit win the championship that year. The Pistons re-signed Wallace, and though he had a good run with them, they never won another championship. With the Pistons unable to keep both and stay under the luxury-tax threshold, they allowed Okur to sign with Utah, where he was paid well and pretty successful.
And today, Sheed finally becomes a Knick.
Isiah Thomas , who had an undistinguished run as an NBA in-game analyst with NBC — and as a Knicks’ exec was successfully sued for sexual harassment — is a candidate for a studio position with ESPN.
Now, full disclosure, I don’t read Mushnick because he’s … well … the worst. But he has reported on the sports news media for a long time, so there’s probably some credibility to the report. I remember when Thomas worked for NBC. As ex-jocks-turned-broadcasters go, Thomas was pretty solid. He certainly has the charisma and on-camera presence to succeed. And failings as a team executive don’t necessarily mean someone can’t succeed in broadcasting, as a certain former Detroit Lions general manager will attest.
Detroit Pistons Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman has long been one of the most unique individuals associated with the NBA. And finally, his story will be told in film form, made by famous director and famous NBA fan Penny Marshall. From Marshall Heyman of the Wall Street Journal:
Lately, she has been working on a documentary about the basketball player Dennis Rodman, some of which she has been shooting via Skype. That came up because a) Ms. Marshall is a big sports fan. (“You can yell and scream at a game and no one’s taking you away in a white coat.”) And b) “I have a little radar to the insane,” she said. “They seek me out. Dennis and his agent asked if I would do a documentary.”
One of my favorite things about SLAM is when the website digs into the magazine articles and re-publishes stories from the past. They recently did so with a profile by Michael Bradley of then-Piston Jerry Stackhouse’s breakout 1999-00 season:
Whatever the reason, we saw a new Jerry Stackhouse in ’99-00. Not only did he assume the role of team spokesman, a job Hill was no doubt pleased to cede, (particularly with all the rumors flying around about his future), but Stack also started putting up the kind of rip-roarin’ numbers that were expected from him when he came into the League. He averaged 23.6 ppg, up nearly 10 from his shaky ’99 performance. His rebounding figure (3.8 rpg) was a career high, and he actually passed the ball, something that hadn’t ever been a big part of his repertoire, despite his protests to the contrary. In short, Stackhouse became a full-fledged NBA scoring machine, lethal in the open court, strong in the mid-range and excellent from the foul line. Oh, there is still that minor problem with three-point shooting (28.8 percent?? Blecchh!!!), but we’re not going to talk about that, Jerry. We will, however, mention your 14 games of 30 or more points, including a career-high 40 spot against Denver. And we won’t forget about the 11 points you scored in the All-Star game. Or the 11 assists you handed out against Golden State back in December.
Most Pistons fans remember Stackhouse’s 2000-01 season, after Grant Hill left as a free agent, when Stack’s 29.8 points per game average and pursuit of the scoring title was the most interesting news to come out of a rebuilding season, but his 99-00 season playing next to Hill was really good too. He shot the ball better and wasn’t forced into taking as many bad shots as he had to the following season, since the Pistons had no other reliable scoring option.
Remember when Rasheed Wallace was working out at the Pistons practice facility a couple weeks ago, and every Wallace fan, myself included, thought, ‘Man, the NBA was a more interesting place with Rasheed Wallace in it?’ Well, everyone rooting for another Wallace appearance could get their wish according to ESPN’s Ric Bucher:
NBA news: Rasheed Wallace working out at NYK practice facility w/Camby and Kurt Thomas. Knicks’ considering.
— Ric Bucher (@RicBucher) September 23, 2012
Adding ‘Sheed to what will already be a circus of a team in New York this season? Yeah, I’d watch that.