Driving to the Palace was a mess tonight, but hey, when isn’t it? With a sell-out streak in excess of 500 consecutive games, it’s just part of heading to a Pistons game anymore. And for a deciding game in the Eastern Conference Finals against LeBron James and the Heat, things are bound to be especially hectic – even for a team with a decade straight of conference finals appearances.
This good fortune for the franchise once seemed quite unlikely. The shock of the sudden resignation of Pistons legend as both a player and general manager Joe Dumars after the 2007-08 season left the team shaken. Recognizing that the stress and frustration of the job was impacting his health, Dumars abruptly announced his resignation and his decision to focus his efforts on getting back into shape through a new hobby, handball. He was introduced to the sport by a fan who insisted that Dumars trying out handball would change the course of history for himself and the team for the better. But who could have foreseen that while his Pistons raced through this year’s playoffs, Dumars would do the same in winning his second consecutive USHA Four-Wall Championship?
However, it was before he stepped away from the team he contributed three NBA Championships to that he staged his greatest display of authentic genius. He recruited his own replacement to the general manager position as stats-wiz Rich Cho and made a stunning but ultimately successful coaching hire with the previously unknown Forty’s Girlfriend.
Through a combination of savvy trades that yielded cap flexibility, key core players to build the team around for the future, and extra draft picks, along with an exploitative draft strategy, Cho continued the streak dominance began by Dumars. Whether it was when Cho sold high on Tayshaun Prince in 2010 with a package that brought back Marcin Gortat, moving Rip Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace’s expiring deals for picks, or making the most of those extra picks by swooping in with draft day steals of the likes of Ty Lawson, DeJuan Blair, Jonas Jerebko, Greg Monroe, and Kenneth Faried. And with the veteran presences of Billups, Ben Wallace, and Antonio McDyess, the team seems to have a wealth of riches.
Such a bright future in store for this team rebuilding on the fly, it’s a small price to pay for traffic delays into the Palace. Especially with a seat in the Adrunkymous suite waiting - paid for through the earnings from time gambling, of course.
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