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Appreciating Flip

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This already made it's rounds in the comments, but for those who missed it, check out Ian Thomsen's "5 Reasons Detroit can be champions" on SI.com. There's a lot of good stuff there from Joe Dumars and Flip Saunders, including this nugget explaining how Saunders keeps the Pistons motivated:

"At the beginning of the year,'' Detroit coach Flip Saunders said, "we had our first meeting, and I had each guy tell me what they could do to help us win a championship. I got all those things typed up and I keep them in my coat pocket for every game. I keep it there as a reminder, in case I ever have to pull it out to them: 'Hey, this is what you told me you were going to do.' "

Each player declared what he could do to help the Pistons win their first title since 2003-04. They spoke in front of each other, and it became a personal contract among the players and their coach.

"I'll read it before games to see the mentality of where our players were at the beginning of the year, to see where they're at [now],'' Saunders said. "Chauncey [Billups] talked about not turning down shots -- because I get on him sometimes that he turns down shots -- and knowing our game plan as far as following through on that game plan. And 'Sheed [Wallace] talked about the winner that he is, that he's not going to let his team down, that they can follow him.

"It was good that we sat in there and talked about it. You could see where they were coming from and what they thought. Jason Maxiell said, 'I'm going to bring energy, I'm going to make free throws' -- and there's a guy that improved his free-throw shooting dramatically [to 63.3 percent] from a year ago [48 percent]. It was a contract that they gave not to me but to their teammates. It was about accountability.''

And?

"They have lived up to it,'' Saunders said. "At times, everyone's going to veer away a little bit. But because of that [meeting], our players have been more vocal with each other, about guys not doing things, and letting them know this is what you have to do.''

Flip's been getting his due in recent game threads on this site, but I get the feeling we're still the exception among fans as a whole. It's too bad, because Flip's been doing a hell of a job lately -- that Chauncey Billups reverse in the final seconds of Game 2 looks even more brilliant when you understand the x's and o's behind it (via TrueHoop).

Some people will never be convinced until he leads the Pistons to another title. That's fine, it comes with the territory of being a contender year in and year out -- but realize that only four different coaches have won a title in the last 12 years, and six in the last 21. High expectations are fine, just don't let it keep you from seeing what kind of job he's been doing in the meantime.