A tale of two teams will be on display when the Los Angeles Lakers come into the Palace to face the Pistons tonight. Much has changed since their NBA Finals meeting eight short years ago and the teams appear to be headed in vastly different directions.
The Detroit Pistons are a team without a script, no headlining cast, and an executive director whose last success came when Lawrence Frank was coaching a bunch of Jersey boys to the 2006-07 Eastern Conference semifinals. The team is in shambles, because they have lacked a star since Isiah Thomas.
They have compounded it with trades of their 2004 NBA title cast that were either made too late (Chauncey Billups) or free agency moves (Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon) that were made out of desperation to convince fans that there actually had been a script the entire time.
Meanwhile, Kobe Bean Bryant has added two championships to his belt and the once stagnant Lakers are receiving rave reviews after beating the Miami Heat on national television Sunday.
It is undeniable that the Lakers have made recent mistakes (for instance, the trade of Lamar Odom to Dallas) and got lucky by landing a top-15 player for perceived popcorn (Pau Gasol from Memphis in 2008) to aid them in their title quest. Still, the Lakers can’t be faulted for not trying to enhance the script in search of gold, a lesson that general manager Joe Dumars has failed to learn.
From a distance, it does not appear that the Pistons have a plot worth watching, evidenced by a lack of a studio audience seen via NBA ticket.
Center Greg Monroe (16.7 points and 10.1 rebounds) is a rising star, but like an MTV show, the rest of his fellow cast members are forgettable and seem to be just filler.
The early reviews of Brandon Knight have been mixed. While it is unfair to assess a career on a few cameos, it appears certain that he and the rest of the cast will be incapable of anything but lottery victories in the near future.
The curse of Detroit’s magical run in 2004 was that they did it as a team. At Staples, general manager Mitch Kupchak always knew that with at least one star (Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal), he would always have a vision of where his team should go.
The entire NBA fan-base knew what Pistons fans and management failed to acknowledge: If they kept their same cast members, the team would eventually enter a period of mediocrity and irrelevancy.
In the court of public opinion, the Pistons have become a cancelled show, one to be forgotten until fresh ideas and new actors can revive it.
Hollywood has resources to create the best of action-packed NBA entertainment, and Detroit cannot be faulted for that. That said, the Pistons brass can be blamed for thinking that guys like Charlie Villaneuva and Ben Gordon are worth millions more than the rest of the NBA though they were.
Falling behind Cleveland and Milwaukee is inexcusable for a franchise with a history like Detroit’s, especially as the Philadelphia 76ers have made themselves into must-see TV.
Creating a tale with an easy to understand script with energetic, if not talented, actors is what Joe Dumars and the Pistons need to attain before wins and losses can be addressed. Fans come for a variety of reasons to Auburn Hills. The most significant is to feel something positive.
No matter what you may think of the ones that attend the Staples Center, Lakers owner Jerry Buss and Mitch Kupchak give them something that owner Pistons’ Karen Davison and Dumars have not given Detroiters: A script, energy and hope.
It is a tale of two teams indeed.
Article courtesy of Life On Dumars newest writer: Blair Thomas
Welcome to the Fansided family, Blair!