As you may have noticed, I pretty much gave up on covering the Pistons this year. In fact, I’ve pretty much just flat out given up on the team itself this year. (Don’t know why? Click here.)
No matter what the reason, even the most diehard Pistons fan has to realize just how bad it was this year. (For every one of you that just thought “It wasn’t THAT bad!”, do all of us a huge favor and go help calm the swine flu fear mongering down. Or become a flight attendant. Because you obviously know how to stay calm in difficult situations.) It. Was. Bad.
- A losing record.
- Barely squeaked into the playoffs.
- A terrible-from-the-beginning trade with Denver to rid Chauncey Billups’ contract and bring Allen Iverson to the Pistons.
- Attendance drop.
- Getting swept out of the playoffs.
This list could go on and on. But for the educated Piston fan, you already know all of this. Now the question is, “What gets done to fix this?”
The reality? Probably nothing in the short term. Michael Curry will be the coach next season, which pretty much guarantees a sub. 500 record. Joe Dumars has already promised that the whole roster will be evaluated before next season. Whoopty doo. In the end, Joe MIGHT whip up the cajones to dump Rasheed Wallace, but that seems about the extent of it. Every year we hear how “changes will be made” and what happens? NOT A DAMN THING. And don’t even try to point to the Billups deal. What an absolute failure. Any idiot could see that AI was NEVER going to fit with this team. And for those of you that say “well, we needed to dump Billups’ contract”, fine. But at least get a player for it. AI basically came and sat. I can do that. And I guarantee I cost a whole lot less than “the Answer.”
The sad reality of this whole mess is that Dumars has basically written off this season and next season in an effort to redeem himself via free agency in 2010. So strap in for a season full of craptastic offense and dismal defense next season. Yay.
But let’s step back for a second. We need solutions, right? I have one, but i may seem a bit crazy to some of you. It’s built on the idea that the Pistons of yore (the ones that are now dead and gone) held a special advantage when they played at home. They had a special group of people supporting them. It wasn’t just the team that got it done, it was the WHOLE city. Fans, players, coaches, management. Everyone went to work and did their part. That was DEEETROIT BAAASKETBAAAAL!
So my solution is simple.
Mason: Don’t shout those words again.
Get rid of that sing-song phrase that was once the battle cry of the blue collar, smashmouth, in-your-face Pistons teams that did “Go to Work” every night, with the full support of the city of Detroit behind them. To use this phrase now is a mockery of what was once a great tradition.
“DB” (not that db) was built over time. It was built as the Pistons started taking the baby steps by getting into the playoffs. It rose in pitch when we rallied back to beat Orlando when they had us facing elimination in 2003. It reached a crescendo when Tayshaun Prince ran back down court and blocked Reggie Miller’s game winning layup in the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals. And it exploded across the country as the Pistons routed the Lakers to win their third NBA Championship. I’ll never forget when ABC showed the Game 3 introductions for the NBA Finals in 2004. Mason got revved up, flames were shooting everywhere, and then the whole crowd let the Lakers know just exactly where they were, who they were dealing with and what was coming next. “DB” was more than a phrase. It was a swagger. It was us knowing that no matter what the Lakers did, that they couldn’t touch us. Hell, it was the greatest taunt I’ve ever heard.
“DEEETROIT BAAASKETBAAALL!” Just try and shut us up. You won’t be able to, but try anyways. And the whole time we’ll just keep reminding you of who we are and what you’re dealing with.
But here’s the sad reality: all good things must come to an end. And it’s time to get rid of that phrase. When I hear it now, there is no passion behind it. That passion started leaving the minute Ben Wallace shirked the Pistons to go to Chicago and finally slammed the door when Chauncey Billups got dealt to Denver. It’s a hollow reminder of what once was great and now is human again.
So Detroit, it’s time to pack “DB” nicely away and not think about it for awhile. But don’t completely do away with it. Rather, use it as a new motivation. This squad is chock full of young players and fresh faces. Let them start building this back up, just like Billups, Hamilton, Prince and Wallace did. Let the fans hit bottom, pick themselves up and start to believe again. We will never have that championship team back. That’s fine. Let the new faces have a shot at building something great.
But, for now, don’t hold them to a standard that isn’t realistic. They are not even close to be championship caliber yet. That’s OK. These things take time. But they can’t be given a real opportunity to forge a legacy while those ghosts of seasons past linger in the Palace. It’s time to wipe the slate clean and start it all over again. And maybe, just maybe, the pieces will start to fit together again and this city can get back behind this team. Then, and ONLY THEN, can we serenade our opponents with the “DB” cheer. We have to earn it by buying into that “hard working” mentality once again.
For now, I will continue to think back to that championship squad and those summer nights where “DB” will always live. And I’ll keep my ears open, listening intently for a new iteration of “DB” to rise; waiting to believe once again.
If you listen closely, you can almost hear the whispers now…