Monday, August 25, 2014

Detroit Pistons/Cleveland Cavaliers

The city of Cleveland hasn't celebrated a major sports championship since 1964. LBJ was just taking over for JFK after the gunshots in Dallas, and the Beatles made their debut appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. Color TVs were rare in households and everybody either had an antenna on their roof or fiddled with "rabbit ears" trying to get decent reception. A very long time ago indeed.

In the interim, Detroit has celebrated many world titles. The Tigers won the World Series in 1968 and again in 1984. The Pistons chalked up 3 NBA titles and the Red Wings several Stanley Cups. The Lions? Well, as former Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell used to say -- hope springs eternal -- but they've been "standing like the house at the side of the road" since the Eisenhower years. Some things just aren't meant to be. Still, three out of four teams ain't bad.

At that, many major cities don't even have the luxury of representation in all the four major sports. San Fran, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and LA come to mind. The Oklahoma City Thunder is the only pro team in the entire Sooner state. Portland has their Trailblazers, and that's it for Oregon as well. Even Cleveland is lacking an NHL team.

But the Lake Erie-ites may soon have something to cheer for. Lebron James has come back home, and the Cavs recently acquired star Kevin Love through a trade. Combined with all-star point guard Kyrie Irving, and free agent signings like Mike Miller, Shawn Marion, and James Jones -- all veterans with NBA titles on their resumes -- the Cavs will definitely be contenders next year. They've risen from obscurity to 3:1 odds to win the NBA title in 2015. In other words, one of the favorites. And good for them. Cleveland has long needed a break in the world of major sports.

On the other hand are the Detroit Pistons. Once popular player and Pres/GM Joe Dumars is gone. Over the last few years, Joe D pretty well ran the franchise into the ground with boneheaded trades and mis-managing draft picks, plus hiring a couple head coaches that appeared clueless. Dumars is a great guy, a pillar of the community, but it was time for him to go running the Pistons.

Things certainly didn't get any better for the Pistons considering the flurry of activity in Cleveland. While the Cavs were busy loading their roster, the Pistons, already with little talent, drafted some guy out of Colorado named Spencer Dimwittie, sorry, Dinwiddie. Whatever. I believe it was Sir Charles Barkley that once said -- the only good thing to ever come out of Colorado was Chauncey Billups. And that's been a while ago as well.

But never fear, the long empty chalice at the Palace has a Van Gundy running the show these days. Stan the Man is President, head coach, and will be calling all the shots. Mysteriously, or maybe not, he brought in a few of his former cronies and gave them positions. Like GM, assistant GM, and whatever other titles he could dream up. Their duties and responsibilities remain unclear, but if relatively new billionaire owner Tom Gores doesn't care about shelling out a few more million bucks in the name of bureaucracy, then why should we?

Yessirree, Stan can talk the talk. But that's the thing. The Van Gundys are like the acting Baldwin brothers, and the Gumbels on sports talk shows. Just when you think you've mercifully seen the last of them, another one pops up in front of a camera with a microphone. It's like they just.... won't.... go.... away. Of course the King of lingering is William Shatner. The original Star Trek TV series ran from 1966-1969. Only three years. But after all the subsequent Star Trek movies, and various other hit TV shows, some of which he torpedoed with his mere presence, the now 83 year old former Captain Kirk is still out their hawking whatever he can on dopey commercials. Despite the hundreds of millions he has made over that time -- anything to stay in the limelight, however dim it has become.

Interesting question...... Who has logged more total TV hours? William Shatner or Regis Philbin?

Bottom line. Barring injuries, or something else unforeseen happening, the Cavaliers are going to be contenders for the next few years. Likely favorites to win the Eastern Conference. Even Dan Gilbert couldn't screw this up. Probably. Whether they can actually win an NBA title remains to be seen. Whoever survives the wild, wild west to make it to the Finals is going to be REALLY good. San Antonio showed that just a few months ago when they demolished Lebron's former Heat team.

But the Pistons look to be in historic Detroit Lions mode for the foreseeable future. They'll run their promotions, giveaways and gimmicks to get people in the stands -- good luck -- but in the end, a bottom feeder is still a bottom feeder.

And without major talent, all the Van Gundys, Baldwins, Gumbels, T.J. Hookers, and even a few life-lines from Regis isn't going to change that.

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