The Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies are tonight -- 7:30pm ET on NBA TV and ESPN Classic -- and there will be some Detroit connections: Pistons owner Bill Davidson, former player Adrian Dantley and former coach Dick Vitale are all getting the nod. We've known this was coming since April, but it's still nice to see.
Davidson doesn't give many interviews, but when he does, you're guaranteed to get some interesting answers. Fortunately for us, Mitch Albom scored an interview in today's Free Press. Some highlights ...
About his relationship with Isiah Thomas, which has since been repaired:
Q: Can you say anything -- and I recognize it's been a complex relationship over the years -- about the falling out you two had at the end of his playing career?
A: Well, I was very, very close to Isiah, and there were times he was almost like a son. But, because of his background, um ... I told him he had to change -- you know, coming from where he came from. I said, "You've got it made now. Don't keep doing those things that you've been doing." I won't tell you what they are. But he couldn't change.
On his short leash with coaches:
Q: Speaking of coaching, let me ask you about a few coaches. Larry Brown. What can you tell me about him?
A: Well, Larry Brown is not what he appears to be. And he's built a reputation for himself based on his own PR people. He's not what he appears to be.
Q: What about Flip Saunders? Another case of someone who lost his players?
A: It's a story by itself.
Q: Anything you can share?
A: No. He had definitely lost the players.
On referees dictating games and missed opportunities:
Q: What do you think of the whole Tim Donaghy scandal?
A: That's the tip of the iceberg with referees.
Q: Do the refs' calls upset you that much?
A: Yeah, it's what they call and when they call it -- and on whom they call it. And when you see what they do, you know that they're kind of taking over the game and making the outcome certain -- all they have to do is call a couple ticky-tack fouls on say, (Chauncey) Billups, and you're not gonna win that game.
Q: Which of your teams, in your view, underachieved the most? Which was most frustrating?
A: Well, the worst loss was out in L.A. (in 1988) when I was in the room with David Stern getting ready to accept the trophy, and they call a foul on Bill Laimbeer against Kareem. Bill pulled down a clean rebound, and Hugh Evans calls a foul. You know that he was set up, and you know ... I don't say he had a bet on the game, but that was ... that was unconscionable! And that cost us a championship, which we should have had. Which we had.
Q: What others?
A: The other bad one was the steal in Boston, when we had that game (and Larry Bird stole the ball). So the Bad Boys had two championships, which -- one was legitimately taken away and the other was illegitimately taken away -- and they still won two. So they basically should have had four.
It's a rather lengthy interview and there's there that I'm not mentioning, so I urge you to read the whole thing.
Hall-bound Bill Davidson on all the banners and all the bummers / Detroit Free Press