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Being a Pistons fan in the era of Super Teams

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Here’s why I have no problem with Super Teams.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Twitter erupted when the news hit that free agent DeMarcus Cousins signed with the Golden State Warriors. Most of the insta-takes landing somewhere between relative rage and genuine hatred. The animosity could fit snugly into one of the following categories:

  • The league is a joke.
  • Warriors ruined the NBA.
  • Commissioner Silver should step in.
  • Why should I watch?

As an entity, Twitter remains divided equally as an x-ray machine for utter idiocy and endless amounts of (free!) entertainment. In many cases, the former sets the table for the latter. Admittedly, though, the idiocy can become so obnoxious that I hesitate to recommend an account to those without one.

In this case, Twitter’s gloomy reaction to Boogie’s new address got me thinking, specifically, about the “Why should I watch?” beef.

Being mid-July, with Summer League in the rearview, the NBA’s dead period on the horizon, and, most importantly, with myself being plumb out of fresh Detroit Pistons takes, I feel the need to explain myself as to why the Super Teams don’t bother me.

Obviously this all purely anecdotal. Despite spending my entire 36 years on Earth in and around metro Detroit, none of the big four - Pistons, Lions, Red Wings, Tigers - have ever made an impact on me. I’ve always rooted for and favored individual players over teams. This current group of Pistons are easily the most I’ve invested in a local team and we’ll tackle that in a bit. I’m not saying I’m right or wrong, below is just my personal take.

Parity is synonymous with average

As my main man C.T. Fletcher would say, FU*K AVERAGE.

Growing up, the NBA was completely on the back burner as the NFL had my full attention. The early 90’s slugfests between the NFC’s Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers consumed every teenage thought of mine.

Well, almost every teenage thought.

Even as a know-nothing kid, the reasoning behind my obsession was crystal clear: I knew I was watching greatness. Dallas’ trio of Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin were God-like in my impressionable eyes while the Steve Young and Jerry Rice led 49ers played the part of a perfect storm nightmare.

On both sides of the ball, each starter on Dallas and San Francisco were borderline house hold names and in contention for the Pro Bowl. The amount of talent on the field was simply absurd.

The drama took to new heights after the 49ers Super Bowl run in 1994 (Super Bowl played in early ‘95). Deion Sanders, an all-time great and an integral part of the 49ers championship, signed with the Dallas Cowboys in the off-season:

I remember this shit like it was yesterday and somewhere in my Mom’s basement is that SI cover depicted above.

With the help of Prime Time, the Cowboys went on to win Super Bowl 30 which was their third championship in four seasons. The back and forth between the 49ers and Cowboys is something I will tell my kids about, you know, assuming I have kids one of these days.

What won’t I tell my hypothetical kids about?

The Nick Foles led and Super Bowl winning Philadelphia Eagles of 2017.

Was the Super Bowl a great game? Sure, but on a talent scale of 1-10, it was two teams that topped out as 6s, especially when compared to the early 90’s NFL. That’s not a shot at Foles, the Eagles or any present day player or team. It’s a shot at the NFL’s salary cap that was introduced in 1994 to help curb the dominance portrayed by the Dallas Cowboys.

The cap meant no more Super Teams in the NFL. Obviously with the continued success of the New England Patriots, it didn’t mean the end of dynasties but the Patriots, more or less, are just out-smarting their competition. Tom Brady is phenomenal but the team isn’t. Not a single New England team or, really, any post-salary cap team would be in the discussion for best team ever. That bothers me.

Thanks to parity historical greatness on a team scale is gone in the NFL. The indisputable flip side being that any and all teams can compete for a Super Bowl appearance. Yawn.

For many (many!) reasons, I’ve lost interest in the NFL and the idea of watching Monday Night Football, just because it’s football, is long gone. Looking back, introducing the salary cap and in turn doing away with Super Teams was the starting point of my losing interest.

The Golden State Warriors are like those Cowboys team and we are in midst of basketball being played at the highest level anyone has ever witnessed. Warriors fan or not, when they’re on TV, I bet you’re watching. So many things, including Boogie’s injury, had to perfectly fall into place for this to happen and, again, it’s something I can’t wait to tell little LeBron Snyder about.

Pistons fandom

The Bad Boys Pistons don’t do anything for me. Neither does the Going to Work crew.

I certainly respect what they accomplished but from Isiah Thomas to Ben Wallace, it’s all lost on me. I was too young to appreciate the Bad Boys, and if we’re being honest, as a party happy 20-something, where we watched the Pistons’ game was more important than any single 2004 game.

As a contributor to DBB, I fully realize the treasonous language that paragraph entails but we’re fam, right? Right (insert nervous emoji)?

So, am I currently a Detroit Pistons fan? Of course! I mean, depending on your definition of “fan.” I would say that I’m a fan of the NBA over anything and it just so happens the Pistons play 41 games less than 20 minutes, depending on I-75 traffic, from my doorstep. Pretty, pretty convenient (in my best Larry David voice).

I pride myself on being self-aware and my love for the NBA in general, more than anything, is probably the biggest reason why I have no problem with Super Teams.

Losing sleep over the Pistons day-to-day operations is not something you will ever hear me complain about, so does that make less of a fan in your eyes? I sure hope not. If you’ve been around DBB long enough, hopefully you realize that I put my time in. Over the last three plus years, I’ve missed 24 minutes of Pistons’ basketball, it was the second half of the Denver Nuggets home game in December of 2017 (you can blame Comcast for that). Not to mention the re-watching for Close Out purposes. Does that buy me extra fan points?

One of my biggest pet peeves in the sports world is when people, usually informally, tell me how to “fan” properly. Example: “How can any Pistons fan be ok with the job of Stan Van Gundy?” or something of the like. I fully understand frustration coming to a tipping point but please don’t speak for me.

What confuses me the most in regards to the face painting fan-types is that while, yes, you have a framed autographed Chauncey Billups jersey in your basement, you don’t know the difference between a pick-and-roll and picking your nose. How can you vehemently oppose SVG’s record while in Detroit but can’t go an inch past the surface in explaining the “why” part?

So who is the bigger Pistons fan: me or the face painter?

It’s a silly argument and there is no right answer. Make no mistake though, there are people out there who tier off fans and look down upon those they deem not enough of a fan. I tend to not like those people.

*Let the DBB record forever show that I couldn’t care less what fan level you fall into. From the novice basketball fan all the way, everyone should be given an opportunity to fan the way they see fit.

In the era of Super Teams, why do I watch the Pistons? Easy, there are three particular reasons.

First, the actual strategy of basketball at the professional level blows my mind. It’s Christmas and my birthday combined when someone points out a particular action or concept that NBA teams use. The amount of overall basketball knowledge (as in: how to play the game) that anyone on an NBA bench has is completely lost on the average 97.1 caller who is complaining about rotations or draft picks or whatever. Again though, let me clarify: coaches, players and ownership fully deserve criticism. All I ask is that you recognize that your seemingly insightful suggestion about playing time has been already brought up by someone in the organization. That 100% goes for myself too.

Progress, or lack thereof, from individual players is my next reason. I love to watch in real time the year to year development of guys like Andre Drummond and Stanley Johnson embark on. What did they add over the summer? How are they implementing it? Where do they fall short? How can they get better? The conversations are endless and sure makes DBB a fun place to be.

Finally, I watch to be proved right. Much like you (probably), I own strong opinions on players and on the Pistons in general and I selfishly root (watch) to be accurate in my amateur analysis. Right now, all my money is in Blake Griffin stock. I was a fan of the trade since day one and even more so now. In a sense, If he fails, I fail.

So what about you? I’m not looking to go 12 rounds in back and forth comments on why I’m right or wrong (these are just opinions) but I’m super curious as to why you will watch the Detroit Pistons in 2018-19 knowing they don’t have a realistic chance at winning the championship. Or, maybe you won’t watch, why not?