"The thing I hate, to be honest with you, is that losing don’t really hurt to a lot of our guys," Billups said. "People don’t take it personal, and if you don’t, people will beat you every night. Because everybody needs a win, no matter if you’re on a winning streak or losing streak."
We have all questioned this team’s heart, hustle and energy at times; we’ve been puzzled about how we would be unable to close out a game in the fourth, or suddenly let a game we were winning slip away from us. Most of us blamed the coaching (rightfully so, in my mind), but at a certain point you need to stop blaming the personnel and start questioning the players themselves, which is what Billups is doing.
His quote explains so much to me, this team just stops whenever they are confronted with a problem, or the going gets tough. While this falls some on the shoulders of vets and coaches alike to motivate this team and get them going, it won’t work if the players aren't receptive and just don’t seem to care.
When you look at our current roster, you can already piece together that these players are used to losing. The only players who have had a taste of success and have been on winning teams are Billups, Josh Smith, Peyton Siva and Gigi Datome. Considering that two of those players are glued to the bench, one is in semi-retirement and the other is a stubborn, malcontent "veteran", it isn't hard to see why this team just accepts losing – when they really shouldn't:
"Some of the shots we take are like turnovers. We don’t get that," Billups said. "Inexperience kind of shows up in the fourth quarter. We don’t have a lot of guys who've played a lot of meaningful games. That’s not an excuse, we do it so much, you have to learn something. If you don’t, shame on us, man."
The problem with accepting losing is that you just give up and don’t fight for what is yours, or what should be yours. The whole essence of the blue-collar, hard-working Pistons era is well and truly gone, we've noticed this for the past few years, but I don’t think the former 2004 Finals MVP is used to the mentality this new team seems to have embraced.
"Nobody really wants to lose, but there’s a price to pay for winning," Billups said. "I think overall as a team, we’re not willing to pay that price. When the game gets tough and you have to play with your will, we fall short every time."
This team has underachieved all season, and changing a GM or a coach is not going to change much if you don’t change the culture within an organization. This team needs to bring in winners, competitors and hard-workers, and people who can properly motivate the players. Enough with the mediocre coaches, the FA-signees who don’t know what it feels like to win and the poor attitude and heart displayed on the court. Detroit, you need to pull yourself together and play as one, play for your teammate, play for your city, play for your family, show some pride when you put on that jersey and don’t disrespect the teams before you by playing the complete opposite brand of basketball that made this organization and its fans such a unique team.
"It’s tough to be confident when you haven’t played well," Billups said. "People don’t feel sorry for you in this league. If they can beat you, they’re gonna beat you. I’ve been on both sides. It sucks. Losing sucks."
Damn right it does, Chauncey.