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Monday, April 21, 2008

Flip-ing the script

Posted by TADOne

For the past 4 seasons, the Detroit Pistons have been having vivid memories. Memories of champagne, of confetti, of a victory parade. While the Pistons have these lingering memories of winning the 2004 NBA Championship and the consequent praise from doing so, they also have bitter memories. Memories of deceit, back-stabbing, and self-serving. Memories of one Larry Brown.

Fast forward to 2008. The scene is the Palace of Auburn Hills, Game 1 of the opening round series against the Philadelphia 76ers. It is halftime, and Detroit has a 13 point lead at the break, thanks in large part to the contributions off the bench from Jason Maxiell and Lindsey Hunter. Maxiell contributed several second chance points with his hustle and offensive rebounding, while Hunter disrupted the Sixers flow with his on-the-ball defensive pressure, frustrating the young Lou Williams and veteran Andre Miller. The duo was instrumental in giving the Pistons a 13 point cushion. But, apparently, Flip Saunders has a short memory.

At the start of the 3rd period, the young Sixers come out and hurry the Pistons into quick shots and get to the basket at will, going on a 8-0 run to start the period. After a quick timeout, Detroit gets settled and starts controlling the tempo, but the Sixers go on another 10-0 run and the Pistons veterans are playing listless and without intensity, and Flip doesn’t once look at his bench or take a timeout. With the young Sixers now full of confidence, they come out in the 4th and make Detroit look like the young team who doesn’t know how to close out games. When the buzzer sounds after a 90-86 Philly win, the hometown Detroit crowd boos the Pistons effort. As well they should.

Now lets hop back into our virtual time machine, and go back to 2005. The defending champion Pistons are playing the San Antonio Spurs for the right to earn back-to-back NBA Championships. While the team is the same as in 2004, the vibe is different. Just weeks earlier, a report trickled out the Larry Brown was interviewing with another NBA team about a front office position with said team. The team, fans, GM, and owner were fuming over this, while Brown and his agent were busy dismissing the report. The players, while clearly perturbed, dismissed this as no big deal and said they had their focus on the bigger picture of winning an NBA title. But their focus never seemed to be quite there, and they eventually lost a tough 7 game series to the Spurs.

After the series, Larry Brown was sent packing, and took the Pistons focus with him. Flip Saunders was brought on, and while he was a very accomplished regular season coach, he had only been out of the first round of the playoffs once with the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team incidentally led by Kevin Garnett, who is now leading the revival in Beantown and whose Celtics squad, if you believe the media, is the biggest roadblock in Detroit’s way in getting back to the Finals. But don’t believe the hype. The biggest obstacle Detroit faces is not in any opposing jersey or opposing locker room. It is between their ears, and the only person who can clean that mess up just happens to be sitting in the front office of their most recent playoff opponent, the Philadelphia 76ers.

Do you think Larry Brown would have allowed Detroit to give LeBron free reign in that 5th game against the Cavs last year without doubling him and letting someone else beat them? Do you think Larry would have allowed the Pistons to lose focus and bow down to the Wade and the Miami Heat the year before that? Would Rasheed have lost his cool in that 4th quarter against Cleveland with the game still in reach with Brown, a coach he respects, still on the sidelines? Do you believe that Pistons owner Bill Davidson and GM Joe Dumars would ever swallow their pride and bring back Larry to the D?

All of the above questions should be answered with an emphatic “NO”, although the last one should be considered a definite “maybe”. Davidson and Dumars need to swallow hard and let bygones be bygones, and bring Brown back to the bench he never should have left, if Flip Saunders cannot get the Pistons back to a parade route down Woodward Ave. in June. While it would be a controversial decision, it would be the right decision.

Fast forward back to the present. The Pistons are lamenting the latest loss post game in the locker room. They players are spitting the same rhetoric that has become too commonplace for serious title contenders. They are saying they are “fine”, that “we have been here before”, and the coach is already saying game 2 is a “must win”. The problem is, these locked in excuses should never have seen the light of day. The “must win” quote should never be used for game 2 of an opening round playoff series. The excuses need to stop.

Meanwhile, Larry Brown sits in the Sixers front office while his agent and friends mumble about how Larry needs to get back to doing what he loves to do, how coaching is in his blood. He was built for this, and should be given another chance in Detroit, pride be damned.

Swallow hard Detroit, and take your medicine. Bring back Larry Brown and get back to your supposed rightful place, as the Eastern Conference’s annual participant in the Finals.

To forgive and forget is a hard thing to do. But trust me Joe and Bill, you will feel better when you do.


BETCATS said...

FIRE LARRY BROWN!!!! Also Billy King is a quenticential idiot and should be ignored for Exceutive of the Year honors.

BETCATS said...

Firing Flip would also be a good idea.

Misty said...

Great work.