For the last one hundred years, the automotive triumvirate of Chrysler, Ford and General Motors has dominated the Detroit automotive industry. They are not only an American institution; they are revered and hallowed major innovators and employers throughout the Rust Belt. Yet, with foreign competition growing, and the American economy in flux, the Big Three in Detroit are facing an unprecedented time of uncertainty. The dependable establishment is being shaken to its core.
Interestingly, the current day plight of the Detroit auto industry closely mirrors the fortunes of their NBA franchise.
Fixtures of the last six Eastern Conference Finals, the Pistons (6-2) are a foundation of power facing imminent recession.
Last week the Detroit Pistons traded Chauncey Billups, their pump to impart motion, the Piston’s piston, so to speak, to Denver in exchange for a tank of Nitrous Oxide in the form of Allen Iverson. The dependable establishment has been shaken to its core. The emergence of the Boston Celtics, the Cleveland Cavaliers and most surprisingly the Atlanta Hawks have forced the Pistons to adapt and retool.
With Iverson replacing Billups and teaming with Detroit’s basketball Big Three of Rip Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince, Team President Joe Dumars has attempted to rebuild his Pistons despite losing the engine that propelled them to the 2004 NBA title over the Los Angeles Lakers.
So far, the gamble has paid off, yet, with the uncertain contract status of Iverson and the progression of Rodney Stuckey still unfolding, it is unclear whether or not this tune-up was necessary.
The Lakers (7-0) are rooted in the elegant strides of Trevor Ariza, the graceful movements of Kobe Bryant and the agile Post ballet of Pau Gasol.
The Piston style of basketball is predicated by the workman like defense of Tayshaun Prince, the iron physicality of Jason Maxiell and the well-oiled shooting of Rip Hamilton.
If the Pistons are a muscle car, built from American steel and based on blue-collar ingenuity, the Lakers are an import tuner. An amalgamation of aftermarket parts and shiny bells and whistles that come together to form something poetic and beautiful in its patchwork mastery.
Tipoff: 7:30 PM PST
- National: ESPN
- Los Angeles: FS West (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
- Detroit: FS Detroit (George Blaha & Greg Kelser)
- Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Detroit: WDFN 1130 AM (Mark Champion & Rick Mahorn)
- Lakers: None to report.
- Questionable: Rodney Stuckey (dizziness…no joke)
Waffle Iron Hands: Last year, while Kwame Brown continued his dreary existence as a Los Angeles Laker, I, at the behest of radio hero Petros Papadakis, made a crude approximation of what Kwame would look like if he indeed had waffle irons for hands. The results can be seen here.
I showed the haunting image to my 7-year old brother Jimmy (who will be attending the game tonight), and needless to say, he still believes that Kwame actually has waffle irons where his hands should be. Regardless of 7-year old enchantment, it is still important to remember where we all were a mere year ago, still at the will of a Center with waffle iron hands.
Stu’s Views: I have a bone to pick with whoever is in charge of graphics for the KCAL broadcast. I want to know what happened to the peeping tom cartoon Stu!? OH! Sneaking around in the bushes with his $2,000 suit, peering out of binoculars! It realllllly got my blood pumping for some Laker road game action! BRING BACK CARTOON PEEPING TOM STU!
Varsity Challenge -
(Prize: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s grandfatherly cardigan sweater and glasses on a string)
Name the bench of the 1989 & 1990 Bad Boy Pistons teams.