OK, I have to own it. Yours truly finally gave in and watched a Detroit Pistons' game. No, I wasn't in the DC arena where they were taking on the Wizards -- just in the man cave with the humongous LG flat screen and dynamite home theater sound system. Best three grand I ever spent, not counting the down-stroke on attorney fees to cover that long overdue divorce a while back.
And no, I haven't been to a Pistons' game at their Palace in Auburn Hills for several years, though I used to go quite often. Why?
Because in a word they were, and continue to be terrible, at least by NBA standards. Why would any sane person pony up big bucks to go watch a bunch of bumbling millionaires live and in person when they can have the best seat in the house at home -- for free?
Atmosphere? Well, let's see. Besides the outrageous cost of tickets, if you prefer fighting the traffic in and out of the arena -- you've got atmosphere.
If you prefer getting dinged for 10 or 20 bucks to park in the back forty, only to trudge a couple hundred yards to and from the venue, rain, shine, blizzard, or otherwise -- you've got atmosphere.
If you prefer paying six bucks for a cooked to death cheap-meat hot dog on a soggy bun, which is twice as much than a whole 8-pack of quality dogs would cost at home -- you've got atmosphere.
Let's not forget the condiment stands. This is not to say they leave something to be desired -- but if the drunk in front of you is the latest to drool on the mustard dispenser, and the chopped onions give off their typical smell which brings back memories of high school locker rooms after gym class, you've got atmosphere. And instead of the hassle of unscrewing a jar at home for relish, who can resist a couple spoonfuls of chopped sweet pickles in an arena that seem to have a life of their own. They move. Horrors. They're alive. But dammit, you've got atmosphere.
If you prefer paying eight bucks for a watered down beer, even assuming they're 24 ounces -- that's the equivalent of paying $96 for a single case of REAL beer. Would any sane person do that? But, by god, you've got atmosphere.
This is not even to mention what kind of crazies one might find themselves seated along side. You know, the semi-naked guys that have grease-painted their whole bodies with the team colors, and never stop screaming, dancing, and gyrating in their eternal quest to be on the Jumbotron. Yep, that's atmosphere.
Nevertheless, all of the above might be semi-endurable given one condition.
The team is actually -- gasp -- competitive. Alas, the Pistons are not, and don't look to be any time soon. Relatively new Pistons' owner Tom Gores may have sunk millions into sprucing up the Palace, and it remains a world-class venue indeed. Yet when it comes to the team itself, it's reminiscent of a political slogan not long ago. Something about putting lipstick on a pig. Did I mention the Pistons are terrible?
After their most recent loss to Washington, the Pistons find themselves 2-6. A .250 winning percentage. Given their personnel, there is nothing to suggest that percentage will improve over the rest of the season. A final 2014 record of roughly 20-62 is not only possible -- but likely.
Yes, new Prez and head coach Stan Van Gundy inherited this mess from the finally broomed Joe Dumars. Over the years with other teams (Miami and Orlando), Van Gundy has had limited success. But he's also been a lightning rod for controversy as well, with both front offices and players.
And excuse me but, Prez/head coach notwithstanding, somehow I find it comical when I see a little 5 foot 8 chubby dude with a big mustache (that never played in the NBA) barking out orders to his current players. Talk about a mismatch, height or otherwise. It's kind of like a yappy chihuahua taking charge of a pack of misguided wolves.
Though it was tough/ugly to watch, yours truly hung in there until the merciful end of the Pistons/Wizards game.
Of course, even though they lost, the Pistons TV network had to name their most valuable Piston for the game. That was one Brandon Jennings. He scored 32 points and had 10 rebounds. A double-double. Hurray.
Thing is, naming a most valuable Piston these days was like naming a most valuable Washington General when they used to get wiped by the Harlem Globetrotters.
The Pistons of the present aren't the Bad Boys of yesteryear. They're just plain bad. And while they may "go to work" like the last successful Piston team, they don't seem to have a collective clue how to do their jobs.
So, if you've got a few hundred bucks to blow and nothing else to do -- and you want to pack up the spouse and kids to go see the Generals, sorry, Pistons get beat yet again, then the Palace is the place for you.
Just one suggestion. Sneak up on the relish. First strike capability is always best.....