Luke Waltons Forehead presented by the Sports Dude.

Friday, July 29, 2005 at 3:29 PM

The "Flip" side of things.

BIG SHOCKER!!!! BREAKING NEWS!!!! Larry Brown has officially been named the next coach of the Knicks. Well, there may be some around these parts that are angry but I for one am not one of them. I would again like to say thanks to LB and I for one will miss him. However, I would also like to say good luck to him as well! I mean, NY may get a little suffocating, don’t you think? Also, something tells me you may never see the playoffs again, at least not with that roster. Oh, last but not least, good luck with Stephen Marbury as well – you thought Iverson was a headache? Trust me, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Now, out with the old and in with the new. I remember back when Flip Saunders was fired by the Minnesota Timberwolves thinking that he would be a great fit for the Pistons. Apparently, the Pistons thought so too; everyone and their mother new the Pistons have had Flip in their back pockets for months now. I mean, I said it before and I will say it again, he is no Larry Brown but who is? It’s kind of like driving a Cadillac for two years and then being forced to give up the keys. Next in line is either a Ford 500 or the Chrysler 300, both nice cars in their own right, but there is only one Caddy! I am excited about Flip and I think he will have success here and help the Pistons maintain their winning ways.

Forget about all those first round exits in the playoffs he had in Minnesota or his record last year when he was fired. Have you ever looked at some of those rosters that were assembled there in Minnesota when he was coach? I mean, damn, even Kevin Garnett can only take you so far. I also hope that people don't think he won’t work well with the younger guys and help make them better players. Wasn’t he just about the only coach that KG ever had in Minnesota? Now granted there is no one on the roster with KG like skills but the point is he at least knows his way around the younger guys and can help teach them a thing or two. He has been successful everywhere he has gone, from Minnesota back to his CBA coaching days. The mess in Minnesota last season was more about “contract guys” (please see Spreewell, Hudson and Cassell for more information) who thought they should play more minutes, take the most shots and make more money. Success in the CBA is not easy, with players coming and going almost nightly, you have to coach and adjust on the fly. Lastly, and more importantly to me, he has the endorsement of the Pistons field general, point guard Chauncey Billups.

I look forward to the upcoming season; I truly believe the Pistons will remain atop the Eastern Conference. The players want to prove it wasn’t just a LB thing; they want to show everyone that they are capable of doing it without him. They will have a chip on their shoulder the size of the Palace itself, looking to get that championship taste back in their mouths and the sour one out. It won’t be easy, the East already is better right now than it was last year, but it will still be fun to watch. The Nets, the Pacers and the Heat will all be right there with them, but we will have to wait until October to start it all up again. I for one can hardly wait, so see you then.

Later – the sports dude.

at 1:15 PM

The Real “D” in Detroit Basketball.

(I meant to post this a couple days ago but got busy. Yes, I know the basketball season is over and there is more in sports going on. But I have this post and one other one that I would like to put up all the same. Next week we will start looking towards football as dead time in sports is over and the real shit begins! Thanks for your patience - the sports dude.)

Up until recently I thought the “D” in Detroit Basketball was for Detroit, or maybe it was for defense since that is what the team hangs its hat on. But, after further contemplation, I realize that the “D” actually stands for one thing and one thing only – “Davidson”.

Yes, the “D” is for the owner, the head honcho, the grey haired billionaire who many simply call “Mr. D”. See, there’s that darn “D” again, right there smack in our faces even in the mans nickname. Let it be known that, if there is any doubt about who has the final say in the Pistons organization about team decisions, especially after this LB mess, is anyone other than Mr. D himself, you are truly blind. I seriously feel that someday down the road, after Mr. D is gone and Joe Dumars is in a retirement home somewhere that Joe may secretly whisper to someone that he really wished LB had stayed. But he knows better than to cross Mr. D., so he knew that he had to start looking past LB and on to the teams’ fourth coach in the past five years.

It is pretty clear to me, as well as it should be to just about everyone else by now, that Mr. D demands loyalty from the people he employs. He was pissed that LB said awhile back that coaching the Knicks would be his “dream job”. All though I feel that statement was taken slightly out of context, Mr. D saw it as a slap in the face – shouldn’t his Pistons be your dream job? Or any coaches dream job for that matter? He was upset with the all too close flirtation with the Cavs, whom all but had the contract written for LB. But, correct me if I am wrong here, did the Pistons not give the Cavs permission to speak to LB and/or his agent? Next, Mr. D was sick of hearing LB’s name being mentioned as a candidate for every head coaching position that opened up in the NBA. Finally, to paraphrase his own words, Mr. D just felt there was too much Larry and not enough Pistons.

NEWS FLASH!!!! STOP THE PRESSES!!!! When you guys hired him two years ago did you forget to do the background check? Call some references? Read his damn resume? This is Larry Brown, remember guys? The man is a nomad, a gypsy, a wanderer, a NBA coaching whore! If he were to get frequent flyer miles for all the places he has traveled in the NBA he would have a monopoly on frequent flier miles by now! Seriously guys, you knew what you were getting into two years ago when you hired him; it is the luggage that comes with the man. Quite frankly, I just think it was more than Mr. D ever dreamt it would be. I truly believe Mr. D was just surprised, maybe even thrown back a little, overwhelmed and quite frankly had seen enough. Joe Dumars just had to go along for the ride, unless he wanted to join LB on that bus out of town.

I have no problem with Mr. D did, he owns the team, he signs the damn checks, and he has every right to do whatever the hell he wants. He was fed up with it and felt that it was a necessary thing to move on. The only problem I have is with the decision he made to open his mouth and call LB a “bad person”. That was a cheap shot and an unnecessary blow that did not need to be made. Mr. D owes LB an apology for making those comments; there was no reason for it. The man got those guys to “play the right way”, got them a title last year and within minutes of a repeat this year. Maybe there were some people, from the players to the people in the front office that were tired of what seemed like a never ending wandering eye. I guarantee you that at least every one of those players (except for maybe Darko or Delfino!) if not loved but liked him and for sure respected the hell out of him. There would not have been a title without him, the Pistons would not have returned to elite status without him and all this success would have just remained a dream. So say you fired him because of the drama, because of the wandering eye, but not because he is a “bad person”. Sorry Mr. D, but for that you are wrong – what are you going to do, fire me now?

Later - the sports dude.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 at 10:56 AM

A thank you note to Larry Brown.

I would like to take a minute to say thanks to Larry Brown. I know it may be an unpopular thing to do in these parts, but for me it feels like the right thing to do. I know people were fed up with what seemed like constant flirtation with other places, other jobs, when he had a great thing here. I know many people were fed up with the uncertainty of the “will he, won’t he” be healthy enough to coach all of next year or maybe just some. Maybe it was his health, maybe it wasn’t, the real answer won’t come until he not only takes the Knicks job, but if he makes it through an entire season if he does. Maybe he was just using the health issue as an excuse, we all know coaching the Knicks was his supposed “dream job”. I mean, maybe he really is nearing the end of his coaching days and maybe, just maybe, he wanted that one last shot at fulfilling his childhood dream of coaching the Knicks. Maybe he just made some of his health issues a little bit more than they really were, maybe he used it just as leverage to get him free, get him out the door, and fulfill that boyhood dream before it is too late. Maybe, just maybe, that is all it is, all it ever was, and quite frankly can you blame him? Don’t we all have that one dream, that one wish that we hold on to in hopes of someday seeing it through? Maybe for him he saw this as his last shot and he seized it. So maybe, just maybe, we are all a little jealous because he has the opportunity to actually do it, while we still just hope for the “someday”.

Next, don’t forget what he brought to this team in the short time he was here, what he transformed this team into. Yes, the Rasheed Wallace deal was a huge piece last year, but ‘Sheed or no ‘Sheed, we don’t get to the Finals without LB. Furthermore, we don’t win the Championship without LB. Lastly, we don’t go all the way to Game #7, on the road no less, and get within minutes of pulling of the most difficult back to back championship in all of sports history without LB. We don’t have Chauncey Billups being just about as good of a point guard as there is in the league without LB. Rip would have never rounded into a more complete player, getting assists as well as his points. Big Ben would still be stuck in Rick Carlisle mode, afraid to shoot and force the Pistons to be a four on five offensive unit. (Yes, I know his offensive skills are still sub par, but you know what? At least he is more aggressive now than he used to be, plus he can hit that jumper now when other teams leave him open.) Tayshaun Prince and his play the last two years can also be attributed to the things LB has taught him again making me say, like Darko or not, Carmelo who? This team won a title because he got them to “play the right way”; he helped them get over the hump, gave us two great years of basketball and should give us a couple years more of exciting basketball because of what he brought to the table. So please, angry with him or not, don’t forget that the Pistons are the team they are today, and should remain an elite team in the Eastern Conference for a few years now, because of the two years that were spent with LB on the bench.

Yes, there were also frustrations with LB, but that comes with the man, the myth and, of course, the legend. When he was signed to a five year contract two seasons ago I remember even thinking then that there was no way he would make all five. I figured we would get three good years out of him tops and that was it. Has my attitude changed now? No it hasn’t but unfortunately we only got two years. Yes there was the circus season this year, the brawl, the Knicks, the Cavs, the surgeries and the uncertainty. There was his reluctance to maybe play Darko a little more, his stubbornness when it came to Delfino, whom I think we could have really used in the Finals against the Spurs. However, on that note, I really think Brown wanted Delfino on the playoff roster and not Darko; I think that decision came from the “higher ups” within the organization, but again who’s to say LB would have even played him? He trusted veterans more than younger kids, but I’ll be damned if those younger kids still probably didn’t learn a thing or two from LB. Yes, he may have frustrated us all with his lack of playing time for the younger guys, but I bet you each of them is better off having played with him than not at all. He may have had the wandering eye from time to time, but he did get us a title in year #1 and he did bring us to within five minutes of a repeat this year. For all the baggage, for all the frustration, that is what LB is, and I for one am gladder to have had him for two seasons than none at all.

So, in closing, I would like to once again say thanks LB, not that it really matters coming from me. Yes there will be people saying that it is a downgrade, but as I said in a previous post, that is a silly statement in itself. LB is the greatest coach in the game today, no matter what coach you bring in (in this case Flip Saunders) you are going to have a down grade. But as a Piston fan, as a basketball lover, I am still glad we had the two years we had with him at all. For him it was just time to move on, as it always is with him. Like I said earlier, maybe it simply was a return to that young boy chasing a dream, chasing a dream job. He is a man of great pride; I think all of us can see that. He desperately wanted a title and he got it quicker than any of us expected, I bet himself included, in his first season. He had serious health issues this year, again anyone who denies that is fooling themselves. Maybe it was nothing more than chasing that one last dream while he was still healthy enough to do so. One dream down, winning the NBA Title, one dream left while he was still healthy enough to do so, coaching the Knicks. Maybe he used the health as leverage, helping the Pistons push him out the door so he could achieve that one last dream. So I say thanks Larry, thanks for helping bring the Pistons back to the pinnacle of basketball, thanks for the memories, now go get that dream of yours while you still can. I admit I for one am jealous, jealous such that I still am chasing my dream while you seem to be making yours come true. I for one know that, if you return to the Palace as coach of the Knicks, I will gladly stand and give you a nice ovation, one that you truly deserve. But, after tip off, know that I will be rooting for the Pistons to blow the Knicks out of the Palace. Hey, I may say thanks now, but after tip off you are just another coach on another team that the Pistons need to beat in the East. That part isn’t a dream, that part is just the reality of the situation.

The Sports Dude.

Monday, July 25, 2005 at 2:36 PM

Back from vacation, posts to come later!!!!

I have returned from 10 days in the South Dakota sun, and let me tell you it was breath taking! We had one cold day out there, and by cold I mean 91 degrees! The rest of the time the average temp was about 97 and the sky was perfectly blue, with the occasional "cotton ball" cloud blowing by! Sounds like it was humid here, but the air was dry out there so there was little or no humidity to make the temps seem miserable!

Anyway, I will probably take a break from the sports blogging later this week and give you all a recap of my vacation, mostly just for my own sake, but maybe some of you will enjoy it as well. In the mean time, I have 10 days worth of sports sections to read and take notes on as I try and figure out what the hell went on while I was on vacation! It seems Brown is out, Flip is in, the Tigers are fighting people and teasing with the wild card, the Lions are on the brink of training camp and the Red Wings - well, they are there I guess!

Well, got to go and do some research here, talk to you all again soon! Hey, does anyone know how the hell to get rid of this dead space at the beginning of each of my latest posts? I can not figure it out and it is bugging the hell out of me! Later - the "catching up with the sports world" dude!

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