The Detroit Pistons front office seems to be yearning for the glory days; at least the glory days of my generation. The energy and excitement of the “Bad Boys” era was last matched at the Palace by Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Ben Wallace, and Rasheed Wallace in the early 2000’s. This group brought an NBA Championship to the Motor City in 2004 along with it came a new respect and reputation for professional basketball in Motown. That’s when everything changed.
One by one, each member of the esteemed group of new era “Bad Boys” went their separate ways in the coming years, leaving the Pistons to slip back into the shadows. With the roller coaster speeding downhill, fans and pundits alike aimed their blame solely in the direction of Joe Dumars.
There is a long-standing theory that the best players don’t make the best front office executives. While I hesitate to buy into this theory 100%, I need only to look at the Detroit Pistons for one shining example of its merit. I’m not denying the pressure that Joe Dumars has guiding a professional basketball team through the landscape of the National Basketball Association is immense, I know I’m not the only armchair general manager questioning the direction Dumars is going.
Following years of regretted trades, failed draft picks and a revolving door of head coaches, Dumars has been left with little choice but to try to bring the band back together.
Last week’s announcement that Rasheed Wallace is returning to Detroit as an assistant coach was followed up by today’s signing of Chauncey Billups to a reported 5-plus million dollars over 2 years. The news of Wallace trading his jersey in for a clipboard drew a lot of crazed looks and shoulder shrugs across the league. The former league leader in technical fouls will be working with the Pistons big men of the future. At first glance, I believe this is a great move for both parties involved, but its long term effects are yet to be determined. Given the lack of consistency and the youth of the Pistons’ big men since Ben Wallace, Rasheed has a lot to offer in terms of playing experience, basketball IQ, and his infectious passion for the game.
The same can be said for the immediate effect Chauncey Billups will have upon his return. The common arguments could be made against Billups returning with his age and health being called into question. However, one thing can’t be denied, his leadership and the intangible clutch factor that comes with Billups to every game. “Mr. Big Shot” is his nickname after all. Having Billups in the lineup will allow first-year head coach Mo Cheeks a chance to develop the 2 and 3 positions knowing full well the point is in good hands.
In my humble opinion, bringing Rasheed Wallace and Chauncey Billups are by no means a permanent long-term solution for the underlying problems plaguing the Detroit Pistons, but what these two legends of the Palace will do is lay the groundwork for the future. It’s a groundwork founded on going to work and winning championships. With a new head coach and a clean slate, this is a prime opportunity for Joe Dumars to bring energy, excitement and success back to the Detroit Pistons.