Life is not meant to be fair. As we get older, we learn how to deal with it better. When we are young and something unfair happens, we often go to our parents for guidance, sympathy and support. But what if you are a 19 year old and what you need guidance, sympathy and support for is the loss of your mother?
Stanley Johnson grew up primarily under his mother's care. Having played college and professional ball, Karen Taylor poured her basketball knowledge into her son. She made sure he could dribble, and even shoot, with his left hand by tying his right arm behind his back. She created an AAU team simply so her five-year-old son could play. When Johnson's mother passed away two weeks ago, he lost his coach, his friend, his support and his mother.
That was not lost on his new teammates either, specifically one. As Keith Langlois wrote, Johnson and Andre Drummond have a special relationship.
"It’s unique," he (Johnson) said of their relationship. "I’ve known Andre for a while and to be on the same team is almost kind of weird. It’s like, look where life has taken us."
Johnson and Drummond have known each other for some years through the AAU circuit. They have worked out this summer together in California. They have played together in the Drew League (and the highlights are awesome!). And what's more? Drummond has invited Johnson to live with him his rookie year.
"He wants me to live with him this year, so that should be interesting to see what happens there. That’s one of my really good friends."
When Drummond was drafted by the Pistons, the Pistons helped find him a place and his mom and sister came to live with him (or near him). I am not sure how often a player's family moves with him when drafted into the NBA, but it showed how important family was to Drummond. I do not know when Drummond invited Johnson to live with him, but I can only imagine that invite being more meaningful with the passing of Johnson's mother.
Pistons fans, this could bode well for how they play during the season as well. And not just this season, but many seasons ahead.
Johnson is 19 years old. Drummond is 22 years old. Reggie Jackson is only 25 and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is only 22. Provided Spencer Dinwiddie becomes the point guard we hope he can be, he is also only 22. As explained above, Johnson and Drummond have a very close relationship. As witnessed during the end of the season, Jackson and Drummond also have a good relationship. The Pistons have a lot of young talent that have a good relationship with each other.
This dymanic may not be that much different than many other teams. Heck, the Philadelphia 76ers are loaded with young talent and I'm pretty sure they may get along. So far for Philly, it hasn't paid off. But they could be NBA champions three years from now when they trade 20 first and second round picks to Cleveland for LeBron James...
Maybe, for this fan, I am drinking too much kool-aid. But it feels good to know that the young players are bonding off the court as much as we hope they will on the court. As much as I heard Moose and Big Penguin liked each other, I do not remember any such close stories of the two.
Stan Van Gundy is signed on for four more years. Jackson, and soon Drummond, is signed on for five more years. Johnson is signed for three more years. Keep your TVs tuned in, because Detroit Basketball is about to get very interesting.