Category Archives: Pistons

Finally: Pistons trade makes team better now and in future, increases odds of playoffs

Jose Calderon |

Jose Calderon |

By Patrick Smith

As I am sure most of you know, last night the Detroit Pistons traded Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye to the Memphis Grizzlies in a three team trade in which Rudy Gay went to the Raptors and the Pistons netted Jose Calderon.

Obviously this is great news.

You would be hard pressed to find anyone calling this a loss for the Pistons, so I am not going to spend too much time explaining why it’s so great for Detroit, but I need to spend at least a few paragraphs spiking the football here. As others have pointed out it’s probably the first trade since 2004 that the Pistons and Joe Dumars actually won, and they won it in a big way. This trade made the Pistons better right now and increased their salary cap room to around $30 million next season. The trade also increased the Pistons chances of making the playoffs, although it still seems unlikely they will catch the Celtics.

First off, Jose Calderon may be the best player involved in this trade across all teams, his player efficiency rating (PER) this season of 19.38 is five points higher than Rudy Gay’s, and ranks as 38th in the league, and he has a higher win share than Gay or anyone else. How you feel about these combo stats will determine your excitement about this, but it is arguable the Pistons got the best player and gave up the least in this trade.

What is not arguable is that the Pistons got the absolute best fit. If you were to make a list of needs for the Pistons, regardless of position it would go in some order like this:

  1. More playmaking
  2. Less turnovers
  3. Better 3-point shooting
  4. Better free throw shooting
  5. Better perimeter defense

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Detroit Loyalty: Deeper than you think

By Patrick Smith

Detroit Skyline - Google Images

Detroiters are obsessed with their national image. Unconsciously cataloguing every reference to the city, every piece of fiction set in the area. Attacking any comedian or personality who would dare denigrate it and scouring movies for local landmarks. I have seen Michael Bay’s The Island only because it was shot in Detroit, same for Four Brothers.

This would be a harmless affectation if it didn’t have such drastic consequences. It has led to years spent pouring money into the downtown and touristy trivialities while neighborhoods and schools crumbled. Engaged civilians spend their time talking about Detroit “looking like a real city.” Southeast Michigan still has no functional public transit system, but it hosted the Super Bowl and has a river walk. In 2004 before the Pistons’ clinching game five win, columnists and pundits were imploring residents not to riot because Detroit didn’t need another black eye nationally; begging your spouse not to burn down the house because of what the neighbors might think.

There is nothing wrong with beautification as a whole, and any reason not to riot after a sporting event is a good one, but anyone who was living near the Theatre District in 2006 and saw the effort that went into scrubbing and painting long vacant buildings, trying to make them look inhabited had the same feeling: What the f**k?

What the f**k are our priorities? What the f**k are we doing? What the f**k is the point?

A more trivial example was the city’s “Say Nice Things About Detroit,” public relations campaign, as if the only problem in Detroit was a misconception.

Of course there is a misconception, and while anyone spending his breath bashing the motor city can go to hell, Detroiters have started to embrace their dark horse image. As the city becomes ever so slowly more livable, Detroiters have started closing ranks-happy to keep the city’s myriad pleasures a secret to outsiders. New York Times pieces have flooded the national consciousness with stories of hundred-dollar houses, and Detroiters are bristling at a small but growing group of artists and would-be bohemians adopting the city. After decades of bashing from all sides, it feels unfair for outsiders to start enjoying the city’s pleasures: “you didn’t want me then, so hon, don’t want me now.”

Which brings me to the Lions.

Matthew Stafford, Lions QB - Google Images

Detroit fanhood is not more obsessive or better than the type found in other cities, it is just different. It has long been argued that sports fans in colder climates, or more depressed areas, cling more tightly to their teams, mostly for lack of better options. The effect for Detroit goes a step further because the city is so starved for national recognition. While Chicago and Boston may be cold, those cities’ residents are not dependent on their sports franchises for a national identity. Meanwhile the sports franchises in Detroit are often the only way residents have to see themselves reflected. For a city obsessed with its perception, its no surprise that area residents invest themselves so fully, as much for a sense of identity as to delight in victories. Often the Lions, Red Wings, Pistons and Tigers are the only face Detroit gets to show to the world. So the major sports teams represent the city in a way that most cities’ franchises do not. Straining for a light in darkness, Detroit residents may not be sure what they want national pundits to say, but they very much want to hear them say something.

This is what makes those endless “it’s good for Detroit” articles at least a little bit true. For the most part the feel good columns are condescending and hollow, a Red Wings victory or Tigers pennant doesn’t make the poor any less poor, it doesn’t lower the unemployment rate. Whatever psychic benefits come from a championship are fleeting and inconsequential in the face of Detroit’s problems, and the people who are supposedly the most “helped” by these victories are the ones with the least amount of time or capital to enjoy them. But still the victories feel good. Not because Detroiters want everyone to like them again, but because the teams persevere in spite of what the experts say.

The Pistons 2004 championship is a perfect example. The joy of that victory came because no one thought the team could best the superstar Lakers. Of course the two have nothing to do with each other, but that victory felt like a beacon of hope for the whole city. Los Angeles was the prettier, self-proud other in which everyone was so confident, but in actuality Detroit had been secretly building something great that no one else appreciated. It didn’t solve the city’s woes or ease anyone’s suffering, but that victory reflected Detroiters’ greatest hopes for their own real struggle: while everyone else was focusing on something bigger or flashier, the city had been creating something unique and impressive on its own

Anyone who has been to a Detroit at Chicago sporting event and heard the disgusting Dee-Troit Sucks! chant knows that the teams represent more than sports for other fans too. Chicagoans in particular seem to delight in Detroit’s struggles, because every Detroit failure insulates them from facing their own city’s difficulties. How often has someone in Chicago exclaimed “at least we’re not Detroit,” or exalted Mayor Richard M. Daley by saying, “without him we could be just like Detroit?” Because of its comfort in the lead, and own insecurities over being the “second city,” Chicago has somewhat belatedly declared a competition between the two cities. Sometime after Detroit fell to the ground and was crying for help, Chicago put its foot up on the city’s chest and declared itself the victor of a previously unannounced competition, much the way everyone in Chicago is suddenly a Blackhawks fan. Chicago and Detroit have two very different ways of relating to their sports teams. While everyone loves a winner, Detroit seems uncomfortable as anything but the underdog.

Woodward Spine © 2011

Which is why while Detroit is Hockeytown, and the Pistons and Red Wings hold the city’s most recent championships, the Tigers and Lions are the teams that are the most Detroit.

Detroiters rep their two losing-est franchises the hardest, taking abuse with a hardened jaw and a slight head nod (thinking, ok, ok we’ll see), more comfortable feeling the same national abuse over their sports as they do everything else. If you’re outside of the city, a Tigers cap or a Lions shirt says yep, I know you think Detroit sucks, but I know something you don’t. Whether you are from Michigan or not, anyone who has been to Detroit and enjoyed the unique experience the city has to offer holds a secret no one else can really understand without experiencing it. Listening to someone talk bad about the city holds a perverse joy, like listening to someone you can best in a fight talk tough, because you know the speaker is completely missing the point.

Nowadays the Lions are everyone’s second-favorite team, but I beg all of you to go back to the Steelers and Cowboys.

Lions fans had to root for Wayne Fontes and Scott Mitchell, Joey Harrington and Matt Millen. They delighted in Barry Sanders while at the same time wincing as they watched an awful organization squander his talents and force him into retiring out of frustration. This is not a cry for pity; Detroiters have seen plenty of sports victories in recent years, and are starting to enjoy some real life victories as well. It is not even a claim that fans from other cities cannot understand some false-sense of suffering. Rather, as the Lions look poised for the best year they’ve had in a while, the fans would like to enjoy this moment alone. And when the team breaks through into the playoffs this year it will not mean much of any consequence for a city still struggling to stand up on its two feet, but it will feel good to hear people say nice things about Detroit, so long as they sound surprised.


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Detroit Sports Memories: Guaransheed

Detroit Sports Memories

In this new series, we will be sharing mementos from our hometown sports teams in the years gone by. Some will harken back to championship glory, while others will reflect back on some of the more tormenting times for Detroit fans.

It didn’t take long to figure out which Detroit figure to start with—it was more of a question of which moment to select from this former Piston who was a Human Sound Bite during his 5+ year stint here.

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The revolution will be televised

By Mike Fossano

It didn’t take long for the Pistons’ 2010-11 season to fall into near lockstep with last year’s dismal output. There is one major difference, however—this year’s squad cannot lean on the injury crutch like they did last year.

This season has been pockmarked by a handful of events that could be read like Seinfeld episodes. It started with “The Determination Era,” then progressed to “The Tayshaun Feud,” “The Losing Streaks,” “The Unresolved Sale” and “The Rip Benching.”

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more pathetic, the events that transpired Friday indicated how wayward this franchise really is.

“The Mutiny”

I’m sure that Friday morning arrived just as any other normal one for Kuester, who’s  21-38 team was in Philadelphia to take on the 76ers later. By the end of the morning shootaround, it was as clear to him as it was to everybody else that something had been brewing within his team.

Only seven players showed up for the practice after what is being called a “player protest” of the coach. Kuester dodged many of the questions that were lobbed his way following the practice, which is something that has dogged him all season long.

By refusing to deal with the issues plaguing his team head on, he allowed them to fester through the media and create a toxic locker room. One of the most common complaints from players has been his inability to communicate with them, which is evidenced by the awkward “he-said/she-said” banter during “The Rip Benching.”

Hamilton performed well after he was inexplicably asked to start Feb. 5 at Milwaukee after rotting on the end of the bench for 13 straight games. His subsequent re-benching was the final straw for the players, who had discussed taking a stand against their coach over a week ago, according to Terry Foster of the Detroit News.

At the same time, however, these players are getting paid millions of dollars to be professionals, show up and play a game. For these players to be pulling this stunt in Detroit, with our sour economy on team that’s nearly 20 games below .500 is ridiculous.

Not long after the debacle in Philly, word leaked out through Yahoo! Sports that Hamilton scolded his coach during an expletive-laden tirade just prior to his benching. Assistant coaches were stunned by the outburst, and younger players would later privately confide that they wished they had the courage to step up to Hamilton.

Looking at it through an objective lens, you’d be hard-pressed to disagree with the crux of Hamilton’s argument, which questioned Kuester’s viability as an NBA head coach. The results, or lack thereof, during the supposed offensive mastermind behind the 2008-09 Cleveland Cavaliers speak for themselves. However, Hamilton’s course of action was juvenile and displayed a grossly skewed sense of reality.

Prior to his arrival in Detroit, Hamilton was considered a talented, but one-dimensional shooting guard. Paired with Chauncey Billups, the duo helped to spearhead the Pistons from mediocrity to world championship-caliber basketball for much of the 2000s—even when their defensive deficiencies were exposed once Ben Wallace departed for Chicago.

From an offensive standpoint, Hamilton’s game fell off a cliff once Billups was shipped to Denver for Allen Iverson (in retrospect, and perhaps at the time, a trade that should’ve never happened, but I digress…). Even with a rookie head coach in Michael Curry and a transitional roster, Hamilton signed the Pistons’ three-year, $34M extension offer immediately following the trade. Since then, Hamilton has been given space to develop into a relative malcontent with zero repercussions for his detrimental behavior and lack of production—other than reasonable requests for him to come off the bench.

“The Takeover”

It’s time for Joe Dumars to show some culpability for this disaster as well. When things were great, Dumars was easy to find and had a much stronger media presence. Nowadays, the only time you see him is when the in-game camera picks him out from the depths of his shadowy suite.

Firing Kuester right now would continue what has been an awful run of Piston players running coaches out of town, but it’s likely an inevitable end to this relationship. As he rightfully received credit for culling the pieces to their 2004 championship run, he deserves criticism for a string of questionable free agent signings and draft picks since then.

Dumars needs to regain control of the team by either working behind the scenes to dissolve infighting, or by taking the reins from Kuester as head coach himself. If neither happen, Piston fans can expect this turbulent period to continue.


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American Made – Jonas Jerebko

Pat Smith returns with a shiny new piece on a video series featuring Jonas Jerebko, the injured Pistons’ player we interviewed at Social Media Night, being produced by Nike Sportswear Sweden.

By Patrick Smith

The latest episode of Nike Sportswear Sweden’s “American Made” features the Pistons’ own Swedish import Jonas Jerebko driving through the streets of Detroit with Swedish-born rapper Adam Tensta. The video is a little heavy on Tensta talking about himself and a little light on basketball talk for my taste, but the cinematography is cool and Jerebko shows once again why he’s a fan favorite with his down-to-earth style.

Definitely worth a look for Jonas’ beautiful Aryan mug and some nice shots of Detroit, both grimy and picaresque.

Below the jump are the trailer and first episode that were released earlier this year, as well as the freshly released episode two.

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Pistons Social Media Night Recap

On Wednesday evening we attended the Pistons‘ first Social Media Night event at the Palace. Mike submitted our blog a few weeks prior and we were one of the lucky to be chosen. Despite reports of upwards of 10” of snow and the Pistons pulling out all their moves to lure fans to the game fearing low attendance we made it to the Palace of Auburn Hills in one piece.

Once we arrived at the Palace, we checked in with the PR staff, received our credentials and headed to the Champion’s Club, a VIP lounge located within the bowels of the arena. Starting at $35 per person, fans were able to buy a ticket to the game, a social media t-shirt and entrance into the meet and greet with forward Jonas Jerebko. Following a myriad of photo-ops and autograph requests from the fans, Jerebko took a few minutes to field questions from us bloggers who were on hand. Personable and relaxed, he makes for an excellent ambassador for the team—especially given the rock star-like following he has from Viking-horned fans.

If you haven’t been to our Pistons tab, below is video footage of our questions being answered by Jerebko:

We were then whisked upstairs to our suite, which was replete with Pistons Yearbooks and social media swag. We were given press access to the wireless network inside the arena bowl, which allowed us to provide live updates and instantly upload videos and photographs to the site.

Mike on his laptop in the suite     © Woodward Spine 2011

As far as the game itself is concerned, it was a typical showing from this Pistons squad. After a lethargic first half in which they shot under 40 percent and were outrebounded 28-16, they mounted a nice comeback, which saw them claim the lead and the command of the game. However, the Bobcats snuffed them out early in the 4th quarter with a 16-1 run from which they built an 18-point cushion. The Pistons were able to slice the lead back to 7, but it was too little, too late.

Coming into the game, they were a mere 3.5 games behind the Bobcats for the 8th and final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. While hardly a benchmark accomplishment, it’s a step in the right direction for this crestfallen franchise that undoubtedly could use revenue generated from playoff sales. If they end up on the outside of the playoff picture, this loss at home to Charlotte will prove to be one of the biggest blows.

Lower-level hallway to press conference room    © Woodward Spine 2011

After the game, we shuffled downstairs for a post-game press conference with forward Charlie Villanueva. He said that while it was a tough loss, they have to put it behind them and focus on the next game at hand. He was visibly deflated and one can only assume that the mounting losses, along with the Rip Hamilton circus and unsettled ownership have to be taking their toll. Nonetheless, it was still cool that he took part in the event and answered all of our questions.

Charlie Villanueva taking questions from bloggers after the game    © Woodward Spine 2011

Overall, I applaud the Pistons organization for their proactivity in launching Social Media Night. Even with the team’s struggles, any publicity is good for the franchise so it’s nice that they’re embracing the social web chatter, rather than rejecting it. To be brought into the media fold for a game, even if on a limited basis, gave us an interesting vantage point into some of the behind-the-scenes aspects of the team.

There were a few kinks in the night, which can easily be excused considering this was their first go-round with this promotion. The meet and greet with Jerebko was delayed by 15 minutes or so, which, as a result meant that our session with reporters Heather Zara and Keith Langlois was sacrificed. Also, early e-mails didn’t specify information regarding ticket pick-up and laptop limitation but were sorted out once we arrived. These little hurdles weren’t anything big and the night was flawless once the game began. We hope that this event becomes an annual occurrence for the Pistons’ organization and look forward to other opportunities to work with the Pistons in future.

– MF & JB

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Follow us at the Pistons Game

Click on the PISTONS tab to follow our live game coverage!

– MF & JB

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