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DBB Countdown: No. 44, Rick Mahorn

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There are On Monday there were 44 days left until the Pistons kick off the 2008-09 season. (Yes, I'm behind, but I'm almost caught up!)

Speaking of 44, that's also the number that Rick Mahorn wore during both of his stints with the Pistons. In honor of one of the original Bad Boys, I'm turning this post over to DBB reader Michael Noveck, or as he's more commonly known in the comments section, LawyerBoy:
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Why is Rick Mahorn my favorite Piston of all time? It has little or nothing at all do to with his play on the court. Sure, he's widely credited as the inventor of "pulling the chair", a crafty defensive technique that screams "Bad Boy," but his playing days are not what I think about when I hear the name "Rick Mahorn." I think about the guy I got to know over a six-year period in my formative years.

The Rick Mahorn Basketball Camp was an institution every summer in the late 1990s and early 21st century at Detroit Country Day School. For one week Rick, along with a handful of DCD coaches, players (male and female), former players (including Shane Battier during his years at Duke), and the occasional special guest lecturer from the Pistons converged on the pristine grounds at 13 Mile and Lahser Road to teach basketball and life. I attended many basketball camps in my day. There was one summer where I went to four separate basketball camps. None got me to come back more than once, except for Rick's. Why was Rick's camp different? Aside from having college basketball's perennial Defensive Player of the Year, Rick's camp had an aura to it that spoke of how Rick owed the campers as much or even more than the campers owed Rick. Rick never missed a minute of camp time unless his duties to the Shock called for him to be out of town. Rick put in a full day like any other camp counselor. This may not seem like much, but having seen first hand that then-current Pistons' Grant Hill and Mark Macon were absent frequently from camps bearing their name, it made an impact on me. It pained Rick to have to leave the campers for Shock commitments.

Simply put, "Lawyer Boy" is all Rick's doing. Rick saw my dad come to pick me up from camp one day (my dad was wearing a sport coat and dress pants) and Rick correctly concluded that my father was a lawyer (I can't recall if I helped Rick come to this conclusion, or if he just guessed). Rick then said, "Figures. Only a lawyer could talk his way out of wearing that many different brands" (I was wearing apparel from Adidas, Nike and Reebok on that day). "Lawyer Boy" was born.

I wasn't the only one with a nickname around camp, as interacting with the campers was a true joy for Rick. On the last day of camp each year, Rick would give campers a chance to win $186 of his own money (a $100 for a half court shot, $50 for in between half court and the three point line, $20 for a three, $10 for a free throw, $5 for halfway between the free throw line and the hoop, and $1 for a layup). The guy cares supremely about others and is entirely thoughtful (Lisa Leslie is full of it). That is not up for debate.

As I got older, camp stopped becoming an option. Serendipity wasn't through with Rick and me, though. Little did I know that Rick Mahorn belonged to the same health club my family did. Some years after I had stopped attending camp and begun "attending" the gym, I began seeing Rick at the health club, or should I say, Rick began seeing me. I didn't need to go up to Rick and re-introduce myself, only a few years removed from my camp days, Rick still recognized me and initiated our first conversation in a couple of years. Rick and I would occasionally come in at the same time for the next few years. One day, Rick had just entered the gym, and he decided to come up from outside my vantage point, weights in my hands, and scream directly in my ear, causing me to drop the weights to the ground in a panic equitable to what one goes through during an earthquake.

Rick once invited me to go golfing with him. He mentioned that he had gone golfing with a handful of former campers. I've never gone golfing in my life. At the time, I didn't know what to say but to decline as politely as possible. I know now, that had I asked Rick for some comparable replacement activity I might still be talking to Rick from time to time at this day. Rick's basketball pedigree is only a small part of the draw for a lifelong Pistons fan. Rick outside of basketball, that's the real draw. I've met plenty of athletes in my day, but at the end of the day they're just people. Rick is one of the good ones. I often think about missed opportunities I've had because I was too afraid to ask Rick for an alternative to golf. I would love to just pick Rick's brain about hoops and life. I'd love to know how and what his daughters that he loves so much are doing. I would trade a Pistons championship for that opportunity. I really would.