Hello, it's me.
When the Detroit Pistons tip off their preseason tonight against the Charlotte Hornets, the Pistons will be playing their first game in Detroit proper in nearly 40 years.
Playing third fiddle in the grand opening of Little Caesars Arena to a slew of Kid Rock concerts and Red Wings exhibition games, it's understandable why the late-arriving tenant may feel like Adam Banks walking into the fully-dressed Mighty Ducks locker room for the first time.
Andre Drummond tweeted his thoughts on his new "home" last week:
@LCA_Detroit looking more like a hockey arena...... barely any @DetroitPistons stuff in there .... I need answers— Andre Drummond (@AndreDrummond) September 24, 2017
And he double-doubled down on his sentiment the next day at the team's media day:
“I went down there a few times and I just felt like there’s a lot of hockey stuff. I’m like, damn. I mean, I understand we’re sharing this arena, but throw a little Pistons stuff somewhere.”
Following the Red Wings to their new arena this year, something the Pistons opted not to do in the late 1970s when Joe Louis Arena was built, caused some concerns for fans as to just how homey home would feel with the two teams cohabiting. Reading Drummond's quotes probably did nothing to help alleviate the feelings that the Pistons might feel ostracized, like a visitor in its own home.
Fear not, though. NBA and NHL teams coexisting well in one arena is nothing new -- remember, there are 10 other cities wherein NBA and NHL teams share an arena, including the Bulls/Blackhawks in Chicago and Celtics/Bruins in Boston.
It will take time to furnish the arena with "Pistons stuff" and spread the sense of it being one's own home on game nights.
Everyone has to keep in mind that construction was initially designed strictly for the Red Wings and the project was over two years old when the Pistons struck a deal at the 11th month before this season.
The work to get the arena ready for the Pistons so, for example, there would be a hardwood floor plan and the players wouldn't hit their heads through every doorway was a very large change order, but only eight percent the size of the original project. As construction proceeded, final-final approval for the Pistons to move to Detroit didn't come until two months ago.
For at least the next year, the Pistons will have to split their time between their old home city and new one until their new practice facility is built near LCA. The Pistons are truly betwixt and between.
Therefore, it's not unreasonable for the Pistons to not feel at home for some time, while still loving it and imagining how crazy cozy it can be in the future. It's how I've felt about Michigan and DBB, and after 10 months and 10 paragraphs or so back at each, respectively, I don't feel fully comfortable. Anthony Tolliver says he doesn't know how the Pistons will be getting in and out of LCA yet, like I don't know how to 2-factor authenticate my DBB login.
The strength of a team is only as strong as the integrity of the home. I think Confucius said something like that. While the construction of Little Caesars Arena is state-of-the-art and absolutely beautiful, it feels more divided, more like a hockey arena now than it ever will.
At the end of this season, though, and every season going forward, the Red Wings and Pistons will share an even number of regular season home games. Hopefully playoff games, too. Each will have distinct home-court (or ice) advantages when they're competitive and fans show up.
On Pistons game days we're told that branding will be more toward the Pistons (and of course more to the Red Wings when the Wings are in town). The Pistons banners and tributes around the arena are already on display, and I'm sure more will come when construction is one-hundred percent complete.
Tonight, the Pistons will start getting accustomed to the new home in the first of three straight home games to start the preseason. I'll be at the first one to welcome the team home, and when the game is over, I'll come back home to read all your thoughts.
P.S. - Boban.