In Joanne C. Gerstner's article in today's Detroit News, Coach Flip took the high road when asked if he would be campaigning for Chauncey, Rip et al to make the All-Star squad.
"Campaigning, what it does -- it's lip service," Saunders said. "With DirectTV, you see so many games, and I think coaches have an idea who they are going to vote for. A coach doesn't have to tell me, say, that Elton Brand is playing very well in the Western Conference.
I think that a lot times they (coaches) do that to say to the players, 'I'm really pulling for you'. It gets back to my saying -- you can't chase anything. I think if you deserve it, those rewards come."
Good line, Flip, but I'm not buying it. Check out Flip's comments to the Associated Press (link courtesy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press) after Chauncey ripped the Magic earlier this week:
"I'd say that 37 points, nine assists and one turnover make a pretty good statement for the All-Star Game," said Detroit coach Flip Saunders.
That's not campaigning? How about in the Salt Lake Tribune leading up to the Christmas Day beatdown of the Spurs:
"When you talk about the great point guards in the league right now," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said, "you talk about Steve Nash in the West and you talk about Chauncey in the East. . . .
"Chauncey is the most complete player. He defends. He hits big shots. He sets other people up. He's the one point guard in our league who has the whole package."
Look, the point is, Flip's no fool. His "play the right way" rhetoric may remind some of Larry Brown, but whereas LB always seemed reluctant to heap high praise even after the most impressive of wins, Flip loves to love. Mr. Big Shot agrees (again, from the Salt Lake Tribune):
"It makes me feel good to hear that. I mean, I ain't going to disagree with him. I am playing at a high level right now and we're winning. That makes it even better.
"I know the other side, you know," Billups said. "I've been on that other side enough. This feels rewarding to me right now. . . . It just feels good to hear Flip say those things because you want to know that your coach has the confidence in you that you have in yourself."
And while the Pistons' gaudy record this season is mostly attributable to the best starting five ever, these same players were mired in an emotional funk for much of last season (albeit partly due to Ron Artest). This is the big difference between the '04-05 team and '05-06 model: not only are the Pistons the best team in the league this season, but they are the happiest as well. And much of the credit for that must go directly to Coach Flip.
Saunders won't do All-Star campaign [Detroit News]
Billups torments Magic for a career-high 37 [AP]
Spurs-Pistons a Christmas treat [Salt Lake Tribune]
Cavaliers geared up for big test vs. Pistons [Akron Beacon-Journal]