Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Sad Sack Detroit Pistons

Their local scribes will forever be somewhere between apologists and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farmish, who could merrily find a silver lining in nuclear war, but this team pretty well reeks worse than Pepe Le Pew after a long day at a mushroom farm. Everything about it is totally screwed up.

Take the owner, Tom Gores. When he bought the team a few years back, he inherited a wonderful world-class facility -- the Palace of Auburn Hills. Then he dumped somewhere between 10-15 million bucks into sprucing it up even more. Chump change to a billionaire, but still serious money to us mere mortals.

Only to turn right around and move the team back to Detroit. The late Mike Ilitch, owner of the Detroit Red Wings, had decided the also still quite functional Joe Louis Arena wasn't good enough for him either anymore. Enter a new totally unnecessary bauble that will be called Little Caesar's Arena. And kiss several hundred million dollars good-bye. Mikey and Tommie decided to team up to put another "jewel" in the Fox District of Detroit. Along with extorting a few million tax-payer dollars along the way. And let's face it. The Fox District is to Detroit what Cancun is to Mexico. Lots of lights, luxurious surroundings, action galore, and security everywhere. But get maybe a half mile away from either, and one will quickly find themselves right back in the brier patch/ghetto/slums/blight/poverty that remains everywhere else around. It's an illusion. The proverbial lipstick on a pig, if you please.

So now the Palace will sit pretty much vacant. A colossal waste. And let's not forget, the former owner of the Pistons, one Bill Davidson, built it entirely out of money from his own pocket and put it in a place that was not only easily accessible, but didn't force even more people out of their homes either -- the dreaded "eminent domain" thing that is so wrongly applied when billionaires typically get involved in such projects. They don't care. It's only a few of the hoi-polloi -- sniff -- getting "inconvenienced".

As a team, the Pistons may be within shouting distance of qualifying for the playoffs this year in the mostly weak Eastern Conference, but what's the point? Just so they can get blasted in the first round by the likes of Cleveland or Boston? And BTW, by making the playoffs, they shoot themselves in the foot regarding the next draft. No lottery picks for you.

Their recent game against the Celtics was telling indeed. True, they only lost by 6 points. But look closer. During the contest, the Pistons shot a woeful 16 for 35 from the free throw line. Far less than .500. It's plagued them all year. The worst offender -- BY FAR -- is one Andre Drummond. During that same game, he went a pitiful 1 for 11 from the charity stripe.

Forget college, high school, or even grade school teams. They can all shoot much better than 1 out of 11 from the free throw line. Good grief, I, you, and your grandma Betsy can do better than that.

Quick question -- What did Helen Keller, Stevie Wonder, Roy Orbison, Ray Charles, and Ronnie Millsap all have in common?

If you answered they were all totally blind, you're partially correct. The other part is given a little practice and pointed in the right general direction, they could all shoot better than 10% from the free throw line. And Drummond has practiced this every day -- for years. This guy makes Shaq look like a dead-eye from the charity stripe. And most of us remember how gawd-awful he was. It's truly shameful a professional -- PROFESSIONAL!! -- basketball player isn't any better than that in a key facet of the game.

What is astounding is the Pistons are paying dear Andre max contract money when he's clearly so deficient in so many areas of the game. No outside shot. An oafish ball handler. He's OK on defense in as much as he's a big body around the rim. And he can surely dunk, Well gee, so can everybody else in the NBA. Oh wait, he grabs a lot of rebounds. Well, hell's bells, give that man $20 million bucks a year, but keep him out of the game if it's close in the fourth quarter. Otherwise, the other team will surely foul him, knowing he has about as much chance of converting free throws as I do of becoming a successful brain surgeon. Would you want a klutz like me cutting your head open to fix what's wrong inside? Probably not.

Let's get back to the basics of the Celtics game. The Pistons lost by 6 points. They missed 19 free throw attempts, and Drummond himself was responsible for 10 of those bricks. Clean that up a little bit to even the semi-respectable mark, and that 6 point loss becomes an easy win.

In every way, shape, and lack of form, this team appears to be heading nowhere fast, with little help likely coming anytime soon.

Perhaps those that used to go see them at the Palace, in the much safer environs of the northern suburbs -- like me -- and won't ever again -- have a reason to the thankful after all.

Want to go back to Detroit?

Fine, see ya, and good riddance.

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