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Piston fans: Is this just a hook-up, or are you gonna marry her?

Apologies in advance to our female readers for the lack of inclusiveness in the title.A couple weeks ago, we asked whether the Red Wings were still relevant on the Detroit Sports landscape. And based upon the the response to the poll, it is obvious that those who don the Winged Wheel still command respect on the scene (as they should given their continued excellence). But, perhaps predictably, the discussion in the comments thread devolved into Pistons fans v. Red Wings fans and the reasons why one team is better than the other.

Regardless of whether you partake in this rivalry, there's no denying the Red Wings' sustained support as opposed to the Pistons' relatively recent spike in popularity. Today's Detroit News discusses a recent poll by Scarborough Sports Marketing that sheds some light on Pistons' fans as well as the at-times divided loyalties amongst fans in markets with multiple pro-teams:

A newly released sports marketing study reveals that 17 percent of Detroiters categorize themselves as "avid" or very interested Pistons fans. That put Detroit in fourth place, behind San Antonio (33 percent), Sacramento (19) and Indianapolis (18), in the Scarborough Sports Marketing study.

What makes Detroit notable is that it's the only town with four major pro franchises, which usually means more divided loyalties amongst fans for sports and teams.

San Antonio and Sacramento's only pro team is their NBA franchise. Indianapolis has the NFL Colts and NBA Pacers.

I have no doubt that Metro Detroit is genuinely behind the Pistons now. But by glossing over the results of the study in only a couple paragraphs, the News fails to provide the necessary grain of salt to accompany their Kool Aid. Even the most avid Piston homer recognizes that fans were not expressing this level of interest in the team only five years ago. Back in 2001, the Pistons were wrapping up a 32-50 campaign and pondering the futures of George Irvine, Billy Owens, John Wallace, and Dana Barros. "Who" you say? Exactly.Note, the mere fact that you are visiting Detroit Bad Boys suggests that you are more than the casual or bandwagon fan, so I would expect you to know these names. But the point is that casual fans couldn't have cared less at the time. Some were even questioning whether Joe D was capable of returning the team to the top.

So will Detroiters still carry the flame for the Pistons when they slump to near-.500 status (like the Kings and Pacers, second and third in the poll, respectively)? When the silouette of Ben's fro disappears into the sunset? Or when Chauncey signs on with his hometown Denver Nuggets to finish his career being worshipped as a local deity, while throwing alley-oops to Carmelo?

Will the Pistons return to their luke-warm popularity of the mid-90s (five to ten years removed from the Bad Boys' championships) -- as the third or fourth favorite show in town?

I don't know. But let's hope we can put off answering that question for a long while.

    Well looky what we have here

Anyone wanna take a wild guess at the lowest-rated NBA city on Scarborough's list, the city with the lowest fan avidity?

Memphis? No, they are actually tied with the Pistons for fourth with 17%. They love them some Pau.

Seattle? Nope. They are a middling 18th (and presumably would be ranked higher had they polled all of Shawn Kemp's kidsWow. A "Shawn Kemp's kids" joke. How retro of me!).

Milwaukee? Still no. They rank 22 on the list with 8%. (Though that number is expected to drop if the guys over at Bucks Diary have that aneurism they're creeping towards.)

The NBA city with the lowest fan avidity is...Boston.

That's right. A pathetic 6% of survey responders claimed to be avid Celtic fans. That's lower than Oklahoma City and Charlotte, two cities adjusting to new teams. That's lower than basketball hotbeds like Toledo and Syracuse (/sarcasm). Even Isiah's reign of error in NYC hasn't beaten Knicks fans down to that level of apathy.

My, how the mighty hath fallen.

Pistons expect Bucks to make major offensive adjustments [Detroit News]
The NBA is a slam dunk with fans in San Antonio; Sacramento, CA; and Indianapolis, IN [Scarborough Sports Marketing]