clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

In appreciation of Flip Saunders

Dumars said the "coaching search" won't take very long (will he even interview anyone but Michael Curry?), but before we start talking about the new guy, I just wanted to recognize the old one. Flip Saunders had his faults, sure, but don't forget that once upon a time he was considered the answer to Detroit's problems.

Yeah, the defense was great in the good ol' days, but all too often the Pistons would go eight, nine, 10 straight minutes without a field goal. The offense was a disaster. I can't remember when the word "complacency" became the word of choice to describe this team, but it's not like the Pistons didn't always suffer through long periods of play where fans would tear their hair out wondering why they couldn't just score.

Before Flip, Ben Wallace was the team's long All-Star. Under Flip, Rip Hamilton and Chauncey Billups have gone to their first three All-Star games, with Rasheed Wallace going for the third and fourth time. It's easy to dog Flip's performance in the playoffs, but he guided the Pistons to a franchise-best 64 wins in 2006, a third-best 59 wins this year and a top 10 53 wins in 2007.

Of the teams the Pistons have lost to in the Conference Finals, one (Miami in 2006) ended up winning the whole thing, another (Cleveland in 2007) came on the heels of one of the most transcendent performances in NBA playoff history, and the other (Celtics this year, duh) came against a team that was near universally regarded as the league's best for most of the season.

I'm not trying to gloss over his failings, but the guy did his job about as well as anyone could have possibly expected. Dumars' decree that "there are no sacred cows" is proof that he holds the players just as responsible as the coach. This was a change that needed to be made for reasons of timing (namely, Flip entering the final year of his contract) as much as anything else.

I don't doubt for a second that Dumars will ask his next coach to do certain things differently (Free Amir!), but I also don't doubt that Saunders will easily find another job and continuing winning a boatload of games. I just wanted to get that out there before we forget and/or bury the guy.