Rise to the Top: Exposing the F(l)akers & Being Thankful for the Human Victory Cigar

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As the Pistons’ season falls into further disarray there is no time better than the present to wax poetically about the past. As William DeVaughn sang, “just be thankful for what you got.” And there were plenty of moments from 2003-2004 to be appreciative for as Joe D realized the same level of success as a GM as he had as a player with a team built similarly to the original Bad Boys. Ferocious defensive intensity, a strong bench, good chemistry, and just enough scoring, made the faithful hopeful for a better chance to reach the finals.

Few had expected the Pistons’ to beat the Nets. A pattern runs through basketball history of champions failing before succeeding. The original Bad Boys had to battle and lose to the Celtics and Showtime Lakers. Jordan’s Bulls took lumps at the hands of the Bad Boys. Likewise, Detroit had to take some lumps before getting over the hump. Still, the way the Pistons lost to the Nets was disheartening. Having home court advantage, it was safe to count on the Pistons stretching the series to five or six games. As I stated previously, the Pistons’ weaknesses, specifically the lack of a small forward and explosive scoring, were exposed by the Nets. Tayshaun had gotten a few starts that series and looked like a potential solution to the small forward problem.  Would he also be the answer to the Pistons’ offensive woes?  Certainly, replacing Michael Curry with Prince would provide an immediate boost to the offense, but how much of one?

Fortunately, the Pistons were in a good position to address their roster issues, having two first round draft picks, including the second overall pick, thanks to Joe D’s skills. Carmelo Anthony was talked about for logical reasons. The Pistons needed to upgrade the SF position.  Even more, they needed a scorer for the moments the offense grew stagnant. Melo would have filled both roles while Prince could have still have gotten significant playing time.

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However, Darko, aka “the human victory cigar” was in the draft. Some commentators and fans seem to forget that Darko was the consensus #2 pick. He was an athletic 7-footer, who could run like a deer, showed decent passing, shot blocking, and shooting ability. Certainly, he was raw at age 17, but the potential within his package was too much too pass up. He was projected as the second pick on every team’s draft board. In short, Darko fooled more than just Joe D and the Pistons with his bouncy gait, length and love of Europop.

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Later in the first round, Joe took Carlos Delfino, another promising young player with tantalizing potential and athleticism, with their original pick. Delfino ended up not working out too well. He didn’t mix with Larry Brown, who questioned his passion and loyalty. Another case of the pot calling the kettle back. Although to be fair, some of the complaints against Carlos were legitimate. I was often annoyed at his seemingly lackadaisical attitude towards injury recovery. Still, his potential was lip licking. He struggled to establish consistency with his jump-shot, but showed the ability to take it to the rack and finish due to his combination of good leaping ability and freakishly large hands.

If Ben Wallace had been able to switch hands with Carlos, he would have scored at least 4 points more a game. Carlos was one of the few players I have seen palm a ball directly off the floor. Delfino’s hands made him a solid rebounder. He wouldn’t join the Pistons until the next season though. Andreas Gliniadakis, a center project from Greece, was drafted near the end of the second round. He amounted to nothing.

Free agency brought no splashy additions, but more role players were added. Elden Campbell was brought in as a big body to man the middle, beginning the season as the starting center. Mehmet was inserted into the starting lineup before 2003 ended, only losing his job due to Christmas in February. Michael Curry was traded after the postseason, opening the door for Prince to move into the starting lineup. Darvin Ham was added as a backup. Most known for his backboard shattering dunk while playing at Texas Tech, Darvin excelled at jumping and dunking. He also provided energy off the bench in the limited minutes he received. Yes, he did start two games. The horror!  Larry Brown liked to put him in for “defensive” purposes at the end of quarters, even if it was for only 10 seconds.  Thus, Ham racked up few stats in gloriously unproductive minutes.

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Bob Sura was another veteran added to the mix, to go along with Chucky, Hunter and Corliss.  Hunter returned to the Pistons from Toronto, who received Michael Curry in the trade.  He was shipped in from Golden State in exchange for Cliff Robinson and Pepe Sanchez.  Sura was a valuable contributor to the championship run.  He was traded to Atlanta, where Sura quickly gained infamy as he received a dubious triple double, for Rasheed. Becoming the third player  to dubiously attempt a trip-dub, Sura reluctantly seemed to pull it off contrasting Ricky Davis, who gleefully attempted to shoot at his own basket to get a 10th rebound.  Deshawn Stevenson prevented the attempt, which wouldn’t have counted anyways.

A player can’t shoot the ball at his opponent’s basket.  Sura took a shot on the correct basket, missed, and grabbed the rebound when he recorded his triple-double.  Sura attempted to cover his actions, but saying his last shot was errant due to the ball slipping out of his hands.  David Stern took the rebound away because Sura’s slip wasn’t an attempt to put the ball in the basket, and, thus, not a shot. I don’t remember the Anthony Bowie situation, but, according to Basketbawful, he called a timeout with 2.7 seconds left in a blowout win against the Pistons so he could get a chance at getting a 10th assist.

In addition to tweaking the roster, Joe D also also addressed the head coaching position, firing Rick Carlisle and bringing in Larry Brown, whose 76ers had been bested by the Pistons in the postseason. Rick had done a fine job leading the Pistons to consecutive 50 win seasons, winning a NBA Coach of the Year award his rookie season. But Joe didn’t like his reluctance to play the younger players, specifically Prince and Okur. His style had also worn a little thin with the players, something Joe knew the dangers of. These were a few of the issues surrounding his firing. Of even more importance was the sudden availability of Larry Brown.  Rick was quickly hired as head coach by the Pacers.

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Although, hiring Brown after having issues with Carlisle’s stifling of young’ens was an interesting considering Brown didn’t have the best track record of developing young talent. NBA head coaches don’t want to develop talent, that generally means losing season, which means job instability. Brown did bring a lot of years of experience, including postseason success, and the reputation for being a superb, if a little controlling, x and o’s coach. In switching from Carlisle to Brown, Dumars maintained a consistency of style. Both coaches’ teams played at a slow, grinding pace with an emphasis on defense and winning ugly. Both called the offensive plays; both wanted to minimize Ben’s offensive touches and run screens for Rip.

The Pistons were expected to once again be a solid team and win 50+ games in 2003-2004. Ben, Rip, Chauncey, and Prince all started at least 78 games. The Pistons chemistry grew with Rip and Chauncey carrying the offense and Ben and Tayshaun covering the defensive end. Ben averaged a then career high 9.5 ppg, while pulling over 12 rebounds, 3 blocks, and almost 2 steals per game. The transition from Rick to Larry barely registered in the team stats. The Pistons scored 90.1 ppg and gave up 84.3 while their pace quickened to 24th fastest. In 2002-2003, the Pistons scored 91.4, allowed 87.7 and were 29th in pace. Under Brown, the offensive rating dropped from 15th to 18th, but the defense improved to 2nd from fourth.

Finishing the year at 54-28, they had improved their record by four games. Despite this, they were seven games behind the Pacers, who were the division and conference leaders. Still, 54 wins was good for second best record in the (l)Eastern Conference. It was the most for a Pistons’ team since 1997. Once again, the Pistons led the league in home attendance.

They began the year handling their business against the dreck of the East. The Pistons’ win total was certainly inflated, and a lot of wear and tear, especially on Ben Wallace, was saved due to the Eastern Conference placement of the team. In a few years, the competitive balance would be restored, as some other Eastern Conference teams developed to challenge the Pistons. The Pacers were currently the biggest threat to the Pistons in the East. In fact, they looked superior to Detroit, whose offense still sputtered out too often.

In late December, Mehmet semi-permanently entered the starting lineup in an attempt to change the dynamic of the team. Brown and Okur didn’t get along, one reason Okur was unfortunately sent out of town. Unlike Campbell, Mehmet was able to stretch the defense with his range. He also had a knack for coming up with rebounds and maintaining a stupid, infuriating grin.  Brown couldn’t tolerate his lack of defensive prowess or inexperience.  Still, the lineup switch worked as the Pistons reeled off a huge thirteen game win streak, even handling the Western Conference teams at home. However, the offense still struggled, as seen against the Pacers when they put up 69 points in the loss and had the thirteen game win streak ended.

A couple more losses were followed by a few shaky wins and then a disheartening losing streak, which reached 6 games and 8 of 9. The Pistons needed perfect defensive execution to have a chance to win due to their inconsistent offense. All momentum from the winning streak was halted while the Pistons’ postseason chances against the Pacers looked grim. Joe D felt the same and pulled a blockbuster trade. Acquiring Rasheed Wallace and Mike James for almost nothing (Boston received Atkins, Hunter, cash and a first round pick, Atlanta got Sura and Rebraca), the final pieces were added to the puzzle.  Hunter would be waived and come back in a week. The Bad Boys were reborn and Wallace x 2 was formed.

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Joe D’s acquisition of Sheed, and the subsequent championship, are the events largely responsible for the Joe D as genius GM narrative. While Joe is certainly a good GM, there are some black marks on his resume that take some of the shine off the genius label. But that is a discussion for another time.

Sheed’s addition to the squad pushed the Pistons over the hump. I gotta say I was pleased with the idea of him on the team, despite the negatives he brought. I had liked him from his UNC collegiate days and was salivating at the prospect of him alongside Ben on the inside. Joe’s moves turned an impressive defense into a legendary one turning the Pistons into a real contender.

James brought defensive ball-hawking, 3-point range, and the ability to drive and create. Was he starter quality? No way, but he was a useful backup. Hunter’s return teamed him with James. Dubbed the “Bulldogs,” due to their tenacious defense, they often applied full-court pressure, disrupting the flow of opposing offenses. As useful as Mike James was, Rasheed was obviously the big ticket of the deal. His length, defensive acumen and IQ, defense stretching range, and low post game (yes, occasionally he used it back then) gave the Pistons the final piece of the starting puzzle. Combined with Ben, they formed one of the best low post defensive duo’s ever. Finally, Detroit had a real chance at competing against the Pacers in a series.

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After the trade for Sheed, the Pistons’ defensive dominance became a whole ‘nother thing. Before Sheed, the Pistons either had to go big with no offense (Ben/Campbell), or soft (Okur/Ben). The only real low-post offensive threat was Big Nasty, who was undersized like Ben, but totally incapable of guarding most big men. In the midst of the losing streak, Rasheed jumped into the starting lineup after a purgatory game as a Atlanta Hawk and one game coming off the bench. Offensively, Sheed provided more than Mehmet, though Mehmet did spread the defense well. Defensively, he was by far the Pistons’ best low post one-on-one defender, in addition to being a superb help defender. Teamed with Ben, other teams struggled to get anything going on in the paint. With the knowledge that Ben and Sheed were behind them to cover their mistakes, the guards were able to be aggressive and apply tight ball pressure.

Instantly, the Piston ship was righted. The offense became better, which was inconsequential based on the way the defense was playing. Starting on Monday, February 23rd, game 59 against the 76ers, the Pistons only gave up more than 90 points twice. Even more impressively, they held opponents under 70 points 8 times, including a streak of 5 in a row. The fifth game was an otherwise meaningless late spring Sunday game against the woefully outmatched 76ers club. Due to the impressive fortitude of the defense, the Pistons had a chance to beat the record for holding consecutive opponents under 70 points. Despite the large lead, the defensive intensity held until the end of the game. They had done it. Not only that, the Pistons’ looked like a serious contender to make the Finals as the Eastern Conference representative.

The streak ended against the Nets, who scored 71 points. But it didn’t appear they were a real threat to the Pistons’ anymore.  In the 32 games, the Pistons started Billups, Rip, Prince, Okur, and Ben, they were 23-9 for a winning percentage of 72.  As strong as that starting unit looked, the Pistons were even better with Sheed.  Although, their winning percentage was slightly worse in the 16 games Rasheed started going went 12-4. The playoff prospects looked bright.

Easily dispatching the Bucks, although the game 2 loss was an annoying recurrence of lapsed concentration, the new-look, freshly swaggering Pistons faced the Nets, led by the firm of Kidd-Martin-Jefferson-Kittles in a rematch. This time they Pistons held home court crushing the Nets twice (78-56, 95-80). The series looked to be over as the Pistons were on a roll.

Besides the loss to the Bucks, the Pistons average margin of victory was well over ten. They just had to win one on the road, and the series for all practical purposes was over. The fans were as overconfident as the team as the Pistons entered the Meadowlands. After a game 3 loss, in which the Pistons reverted back to incredibly ugly offense only scoring 64 points, the confidence was shaken. Ben had 4 of the teams 10 assists. The Nets handled the Pistons again in game 4, and a different team was coming back to a different crowd. Rip was having a good offensive series, but Rasheed had yet to really get on track.

I remember the hype around game 5. We all expected the Pistons to bring it in front of the home crowd and get some momentum back in what seemed like a must win game. Ben’s fro was fluffed out. The chances for an epic game were high, but no one had any clue the game would go into triple overtime. It had was the longest basketball game I have ever witnessed. We had to make a quick beer run due to it’s prince-esque length.

The benches were pretty much emptied as foul trouble eliminated many key players. Four of the Pistons’ starters fouled out, while 2 Nets starters and reserves did the same.  Thirteen players scored in double figures. Jason Kidd led all players with 57 minutes. Kenyon Martin only played 35 minutes due to fouls; however, little used Brian Scalabrine came off the bench for the Nets scoring 17 as he hit 6-7 shots, including 4-4 from long range.  Chauncey forced overtime by hitting a half-court bomb. It was a crushing loss heading back to New Jersey, but we knew what Detroit’s defense was capable of unleashing. And the team thrived around having its’ back to the wall.

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The D was back in game 6, a gritty 81-75 win. Prince only played 18 minutes because of foul trouble, but Hunter pitched in 8 efficient points. Rip carried the offense with 24, as Ben and Sheed each took 11 shots. Ben only made 2. The Nets had a strategy of giving Ben so much space he couldn’t help but take shots. Returning to the Palace, the Pistons had some swagger back.

Side ramble

These were great days for Detroit sports. Granted, the Tigers sucked. I know, I was a teenager working as an usher there for several seasons, including the 119 loss season. But the Wings and Pistons were experiencing steady success. The NBA and NHL playoffs intermingled with the late spring, the real start to baseball season in the midwest. Some days, especially Sundays, the Pistons, Wings, and Tigers would be playing at the same time.

I was often stuck working these fun occasions, known as Kids’ Run the Bases day. Sunday was always the longest day due to the event, as kids would line up around the stadium. Despite the worse than mediocre team, good weather brought out a good amount of fans and Kids Run the Bases brought out the families en mass.

No offense to families (full disclosure, I am a member of a family myself), but I am not a huge fan of families at sporting events, especially playoff games. Piston games got wrecked as a new generation/bangwagoners jumped aboard. Just once, I would love to go see a game with a truly educated crowd forgoing all the loud music and gimmicks. The sound of sneakers, bodies, a bouncing ball, and the murmur of the crowd. Obviously, this being a dream, the setting is always a hype playoff game. If it were a regular season game there would be a high chance of seeing a boring, apathetic stinker, like today’s Pistons-Cavs game.  It may seem ridiculous to blame families for the blaring stimuli pollution, but the noise is aimed at the pleasing the children of families, who are too often headed by puerile adults.  A families’ money is as good as mine and their breeding habits mean more of it for the franchise owners.

But I hate the dumbed down idea of basketball as strictly entertainment.  There is a real beauty to the game, especially in the moments of a big game.  Unique, powerful moments wrecked by the entertainment intrusions. I apologize, this is a subject I have been wanting to rant on for a while. The noise of baseball is a lot more toned down than basketball, so it is more tolerable. The pace and setting of baseball don’t allow for the always amped antics of an NBA arena.

One last random sports thought before getting back to the Pistons. After the Tigers rebounded after hitting bottom, I found myself longing for them to be bad again, just so the crowds would be smaller. The constant crowd was just so different from the sparsely populated I tended to or was a member of.  There were times I longed for shorter food lines and the more intimate feel the empty seats created.  I would obviously take the roar of a huge crowd over the echoes of empty seats, but those experiences had many good qualities as well.

The crowd at the Tigers during these years paid closer attention to the Piston/Wing games than the Tigers. People would listen to the games on their headsets, the stadium would give updates. Although, they didn’t give as many Piston updates due to mutual dislike between Illitch and Davidson. Areas of the crowd would start cheering for the action of the other games. The Tiger players must have felt sad knowing the love they could receive if they were even decent; knowing that the pathetic, bumbling Lions received the attention of 60,000 plus every home game, even if a lot of it was boes, jeers, and sarcastic cheers. Anyways, these were great days for Detroit sports even if they weren’t the greatest years for the Detroit area or the Lions. Perhaps, the Tigers can provide some magical elixir this summer, at least for a little while.

And back to the Pistons.

Piston fans were pretty comfortable going into game 7. Certainly, memories of Scalabrine draining clutch threes flashed in the back of the mind, but the Pistons vice-grip defense had returned.  The Nets started Jason Collins, who was even more useless than Ben Wallace on offense. He provided screens and occasionally put backs, but wasn’t a threat. Kidd’s lack of a jump shot meant the Pistons only had to worry about two shooters, and I would hesitate to call Richard Jefferson a shooter. Forcing turnovers and challenged jumpers, the Pistons held the Nets to 69 points while putting up 90. Ben Wallace went off for 18, going 8-10 from the field. This one was never in doubt. A battle with division rival Pacers, a team who had given the pre-Sheed Pistons trouble, loomed.

Fittingly, the Pacers, who had finished with a record of 61-21, were coached by Rick Carlisle. He coached them the same way he had coached the Pistons. The Pacers offensive pace was 26th in the league. Their defense, led by Jermaine O’Neal and Ron Artest, was 3rd best. Kenny Anderson had previously battled the Pistons in the playoffs as a member of Boston. This time around he didn’t play as much of a role. The Pacers also had the relatively young Al Harrington and Jonathan “Bad Knees” Bender, a player much better in video games than real life. Harrington was a dangerous offensive weapon off the bench. Austin Croshere was living high off the ridiculously fat contract he received. Jamaal Tinsley saw significant time at PG dishing to old man, and third option Reggie Miller, who is a horrible announcer. I was watching the Pistons game the other night and he was on the mic.

Having coached the Pistons, Carlisle was pretty knowledgeable about the Pistons’ schemes and personnel. The teams were familiar with each other and the series offered to be a grind-it-out, ugly affair. Certainly, not something the NBA or tv networks wanted, but the series delivered on the hype. Despite Ben and Rip’s great games, and Billups solid efforts, they didn’t get enough help to win game 1 going down 78-74. Before game 2, Sheed guaranteed a victory.

Holding the Pacers to 67 points, the Pistons stole home-court by putting up 72 in an  extremely ugly game 2. The Pacers tallied 8 assists to 16 turnovers and shot under 30%. Okur and Big Nasty’s contributions off the bench were essential. The Pistons shot pretty awful themselves, but had a block party swatting 19 shots. They also had 10 steals. This game will forever be known for “The Block” Tayshaun put on Reggie Miller.

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Winning 85-78, the Pistons forced the Pacers to commit turnovers than receive assists. If they could hold home-court, the Pistons would be in a good shape; however, they already had a history of making things difficult for themselves. Putting up a stinker in game 4, the Pistons lost 83-68. Austin Croshere earned some of his millions. Rasheed had another poor shooting performance. Recovering on the road, the Pistons controlled game 5 winning 83-65, as Sheed played well. The Pistons had another 13 blocks, as the Pacers got in on the act tossing 12 themselves. Returning to Detroit, the Pistons clawed out a victory 69-65 as the Pistons won because of 15 offensive rebounds.

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A showdown with the heavily favored Lakers, led by Shaq and Kobe and bolstered by past their prime, but solid, Karl Malone and Gary Payton, approached.  Those two had jumped aboard chasing a ring, making the Lakers a true video game squad. Most everyone thought they would have their finger fitted, including myself. I didn’t think the Pistons could push it past 6 games. I was way wrong.  The assumption was that the Pistons were happy just to have made the finals and would roll over in typical Eastern Conference fashion.  As bad as that result would have been, the worst aspect of a loss was the fact Karl Malone would get a ring.  I had, and still have, a very strong dislike of the Mailman.  He had already received an inordinate amount of attention for his ripped jersey.  If I had to see his arrogant smile after leapfrogging to a contender after proving unable to win a championship with the Jazz, I would have puked. Malone couldn’t take the pressure at the end of games.

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The Lakers’ overconfidence, especially that of their fans, was so bloated it made our national deficit look Lindsay Lohan thin.

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Despite a strong game 1 performance, in which the Pistons won 87 to 75, L.A. confidence remained atmospherically high.  Comparisons were made to the Lakers-76ers, then coached by LB, finals; however, the Pistons would prove a bigger nuisance than AI’s ragtag squad.  The Pistons threw different looks at Shaq, who had 25 on 10-27 shooting, by covering him with big (Elden), small (Ben) and some double coverage.  Still, Brown was loath to double Shaq, figuring it was easy to win letting him go off and shutting down the supporting players.  After stealing game 1, the Pistons had already superseded expectations and stolen home court.  Battling the Lakers in game 2, the Pistons just weren’t able to hit enough shots, but the Lakers didn’t do enough to quench the doubts raised by the Pistons’ game 1 defensive dismantling.

Returning home, the Pistons crushed the Lakers’ spirit with a brutal 88 to 68 stomping.  It was clear the Lakers had expected their “superior” talent to overwhelm Detroit, but the Pistons didn’t back down and the Lakers never figured out how to counter the Pistons’ defensive game plan.  Limiting turnovers and controlling the glass allowed the Pistons to control the pace so they could force teams into playing half-court basketball against their strong defense.  The key to beating the Pistons was to beat them down the floor before they could set up.  With Shaq and Malone, the Lakers played a slower pace, which benefited the Pistons.

A game 4 victory essentially clinched the series.  Shaq was dominant, but none of the other Lakers showed up.  Again, only Shaq and Kobe broke the single digit mark.  Malone was severly limited at this point due to injury.  The Lakers’ three-point shooting wasn’t the greatest to begin with and, against the Pistons’ superb perimeter defense, it became even worse.  The NBA had switched the playoff format from 2-2-1-1-1 to 2-2-3-2 a few years prior, so the Pistons had the luxury of playing game 5 at home.  They didn’t want to celebrate on the road and came out strong, eventually winning 100 to 87.

Karl Malone sat out the last game with Stanislav Medvendenko started.  Finally, the Lakers had more than two double digit scorers, but it wasn’t enough as Kobe was harrassed into another poor shooting night and all five Piston starters hit double digits for the first time all series.  Contrary to predictions, there was no rioting just joyous celebration in metropolitan Detroit.  A couple of days later, an estimated 1.5 million people turned out for the parade through downtown Detroit.  Meanwhile, I was stuck working landscaping out in Ann Arbor, only able to listen to it on the radio.  John Mason had become a countrywide, perhaps worldwide, with his over-the-top P.A. antics.  Just a year later, the San Antonio Spurs tried to out-Mason Mason with little success.  “Deeetroit basketball!”

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Rip was a huge factor in the Pistons’ playoff success, even though Billups took home the finals MVP.  Provingd capable of being able to carry the offense on his back, the Pistons’ offensive lulls became a little less frequent.  Meanwhile, the Lakers never found a third scorer to go with Shaq and Kobe.  Devean George led all other Lakers with 5 points in game 1; Malone scored 9 in game 2; Fisher scored 9 in 16 minutes in game 3; Payton with 8 in game 4; Fisher and Stanislav put up 10 in game 5.  The series demonstrated just how washed up Malone and Payton were.  Malone retired right after the season while Payton played out a few more seasons.

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I still tear up thinking about the ending of the 2003-2004 season.  No one thought the Pistons were a real contender when the season began, but the addition of Sheed put em over the hump.  After following the Pistons throughout my childhood, they had finally reached the top.  The Lions had given me little but stress and laughter.  The Tigers were one of the worst MLB teams of the 1990s.  The Red Wings had achieved significant success, and they were real fun to watch, but basketball and Michigan football were my first sport crushes.  Aware of the dismantling of the original Bad Boys, I still wasn’t worried about the upcoming Pistons’ season.  There was no way the core was going to be touched.  Could they match the back to back of the original Bad Boys with Wallace x 2?  The future was full of exciting prospects.

Part two went on way, way long.  The next parts should be shorter, I was just in a rambling mood.  If you make it through it, I hope you enjoyed it.  If you see any typos, apply whiteout to your computer screen and send me a snapshot.  I will fix whatever you can find.  Just be thankful for what you got.

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Worst Draft Pick: Darko
Best Half-Time Interview Ever: George Blaha/wasted Kid Rock (“Bla ha ha” “did you ever fire                                                                         one up”)
Funniest NBA Championship Celebration Line: Bill Davidson, Pistons’ owner, “that’s bullshit!”
Best White Guy: Bob Sura
Best Bench Blaha-ism: “Ham Slamwich”
Best reason to go the game: The Dancing Usher
Shrek look alike: Darvin Ham

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One Response to “Rise to the Top: Exposing the F(l)akers & Being Thankful for the Human Victory Cigar”

  1. Reading this three years after you posted it!

    Nice read. I lived in Detroit during that run, and it was probably the most exciting thing I’ve ever experienced. I worked at a butcher shop in Grosse Pointe, and the night the Pistons won the ‘ship, I had to work. I got out in time to watch the game, but ended up watching it at an uptown bar in Grosse Pointe Woods. Driving home after the game, Jefferson ave was a parking lot. People just left their cars in the streets and were dancing on the hoods of their cars, in the streets, drinking champaigne, yelling “we did it, baby!” until the wee hours.

    What a party.

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