The Pistons are in New Jersey tonight, and it's supposed to be a big deal. Who knew everyone would get so excited about Jarvis Hayes vs. Walter Herrmann? ((Yes, I stole that joke )) Oh, yeah, that Allen Iverson guy is playing, too. As a prologue to tonight's game, I'm turning to kevin s. to add a bit of historical context. -- MW
By Kevin Sawyer
My father loved him some Adrian Dantley. He would teach me Dantley-style post-up moves in our driveway. He was the original stutter-stepper. When my dad went into the hospital for surgery, I visited my brother at Oakland University. The Pistons happened to be practicing, and I worked hard to get the grizzled Dantley’s autograph.
And what was not to like? He was slow, methodical, and deadly. When he scored his 20,000th point against against Portland, I asked my dad why we didn’t do that play on every possession. He nearly killed himself (Dantley, not my dad) in a head to head collision with Vinnie Johnson in the Eastern Conference Championship against the Boston Celtics. If anyone earned a championship as a Piston, it was Adrian.
During the Pistons’ first championship season, Adrian Dantley was traded for Mark Aguirre, the high scoring wing from the Dallas Mavericks. Aguirre wasn’t a conventional Piston. He had averaged 26 and 6 his prior year on a strong squad that was not about to compete against a Laker Dynasty. He was the prototypical high-scorer on an okay team (that would be lottery bound without him). A high-flyer and all that.
Many wondered how he would fit into a tightly wound Piston offense. He only grabbed eight points and five rebounds in his first game against a mediocre west coast team, but a late drive to the basket, which rolled around the rim on its way down, signaled a new style of Pistons basketball. We lost in Overtime, snapping a seven-game win streak (one without Dantley), and Aguirre fouled out. But something felt different.
Of course, you know the rest. We went on to win the championship. Poor Adrian Dantley was helpless to resurrect a squad ravaged by the Roy Tarpley era, and Mark Aguirre became the Taco Bell Unsung Hero of our back-to-back championship runs.
My dad noted that what the Pistons needed was freedom from Dantley’s slow-down style. Quite the Monday morning quarterback, him. All of which is to say, while my analytical side shudders at such a wild trade, the sports fan part of me is excited to see what the rest of this season brings.
That said, I expect more than 8 and 5 from AI against THIS mediocre team.
Well said. The game starts at 7:30 on FSN, and if you're up for a marathon, switch over to ESPN after the final whistle to catch Chauncey Billups' debut with the Nuggets at 10:30. And, of course, share your thoughts in the comments.