Eventually word came that Josh Smith was benched Friday after missing practice Thursday, which answered one question but created another: why? Soon, that was answered, as well. Smith stayed overnight in Atlanta following Wednesday's game to visit with his father, who was so ill that he was unable to attend the game -- the first game in Atlanta in Smith's career that his father missed.
"Generally 99.9% of the time on back-to-backs we have the day off and I considering I was at home and my father was dealing with a real serious illness, I thought it was self-explanatory, but I should have made better communication on my part as far as letting these guys know that I was going to stay over," Smith this morning after practice. "I apologized to Joe Dumars and (Maurice) Cheeks the following day.
"It’s a situation that’s very minor and I really want to move past it."
Cheeks didn't decide the Pistons would have a film session on Thursday morning until the plane ride home from Atlanta. By the time Smith learned the news, it was too late. More from Ellis:
"My dad is a very intricate part of my life," Smith said. "I consider him my best friend so it does bother me.
"When it came about and I didn’t see him in the stands it really was a shock to me. I wanted to be able to make sure I took care of that. That was my main priority more so than anything else."
[...] "I always say you can’t control something that’s beyond your reach and this is one of those situations," Smith said. "I gotta just take the punishment that they gave me and I just move past it.
"It’s just a situation that I’m looking at as just unfair as far as the public eye is concerned because there’s a perception that’s something I’m not as far as my character."
In nearly 20 minutes off the bench, Smith grabbed seven rebounds with three blocks but was held scoreless after shooting 0-7 from the field. Cheeks has already confirmed that Smith will return to the starting lineup Sunday against the Nets.
Smith apologized to Cheeks and Joe Dumars for the miscommunication but added that he didn't feel a need to apologize to his teammates.
"See, what people have to understand, players are a close-knit family," Smith said. "Players understand we’re still people and have real-life problems. They didn’t look down on me, they understood the concern I had as far as my family. They were behind me 100 percent. That’s what you ask out of a brotherhood. They know situations are beyond playing basketball and watching it on TV."