LOS ANGELES — To be perfectly prickly, nobody outside this city’s limits, exempting Yankee fans, perhaps, likes the Lakers. How can we when the Lakers don’t like themselves?
Oh, sure, now that they’re positioned to gain another championship suddenly all is spotless and each pinup player all at once thinks their teammates and coaches are just precious.
Their warm and fuzzy charade doesn’t fool me a bit. No matter what they have been lip-synching lately for public consumption, Shaq, Kobe, Little Noxious (Gary Payton), The Mailman and Big Chief Triangle (Phil Jackson) privately loathe the preponderance of Dysfunction Junction.
Far too much jealousy and nastiness has gone down to start reaching for reconciliation in this courtroom.
Compulsive, repulsive critic that I am, I’m beginning to suspect Vanessa Bryant of being this generation’s Christina DeLorean. Maybe it’s because her lawyers are covertly wondering whether the Larry O’Brien trophy can be equally divided.
On the flip side, unless you’re Rick Carlisle and Carmelo Anthony, or have a connection or affection for LA Lore, who isn’t rooting for the Pistons?
Starting with Bill Davidson who owned them when Larry O’Brien was known as the man whose Democratic Party office was ordered broken into by President Nixon.
Second in longevity to Washington’s Abe Pollin, Davidson, 81 and tracking his third NBA crown, bought the team in 1974 from Fred Zollner, who shifted the franchise to Detroit in 1958 from Fort Wayne where he owned an auto body shop, hence the nickname Pistons.
Oscar Feldman, meanwhile, was Davidson’s lawyer before the purchase and has provided legal, counsel for the team since. When asked for advice regarding the proposed deal Feldman declared, “I think it’s terrible investment. Bad location. Bad building (Cobo Arena), bad fan base.”
He recommended against it.
“I’m doing it anyway,”h Davidson replied.
Loyalty runs rich and bottomless through Davidson’s veins.
How can you not root for a guy whose organization is based on that spirit?
Feldman is hardly its only lifer, he’s the rule. In fact, Ben Paolucci, in his 35th season, worked for four years as the team doctor under Zollner.
Team president Tom Wilson has been on the scene 26 years. Matt Dobek has been headlining the publicity department for 21.
And then there’s Joltin’ Joe Dumars who never left and went away. One of everybody’s all-time favorite players and people, he is now one of the league’s foremost personnel authorities . . . Darko, his redshirted rookie, not withstanding.
Revered as the only Bad Boy to wear a white hat, the league went so far in its adoration to identify its Sportsmanship Award in Dumars’ honor.
The last time Larry Brown matched wits and human resources with Phil Jackson, he got him to uncross his legs once.
Since Brown’s players don’t take off a single defensive possession, and the Lakers are known to take off an entire game, Jackson might want to keep his fingers permanently crossed.
Here’s the paradox: How come Brown gets everyone to play for him in Detroit yet nobody wants to play for him in Greece?
How can you not love this undrafted once unadoptable mountain of a man?
There’s no active player like him. The closest was Dennis Rodman.
Even Rasheed Wallace has become almost cuddly.
Since arriving in Detroit only his performances and press conferences have been arresting. Can’t recall the last time he was tossed, T-ed up or towel-dried a teammate from point-blank range.
On his best behavior; consequently, we have been given the chance to appreciate his passion for winning the right way and willingness to play hurt.
If Rasheed keeps up this nonsense the league will be forced to rename its sportsmanship award after him.
Fathers all over the world are telling their kids to study how he cleverly reads the defense before curling around picks (speed is not important, in fact, it can be dangerous) for open jumpers or clear paths to the hoop.
A great watch and a great listen; nobody tolerates more inane questions from sideline reporters with a straight face.
Need more reasons to rally around the Pistons?
Try Chauncey Billups capacity to make big shots even when struggling and Lindsay Hunter’s beatific smile while slashing opponents’ sneakers.
Forget everything else about the NBA Finals, but put this on a crib sheet as Detroit and L.A. reconvene for the first time in 14 years: If the Lakers overlook the Pistons as almost everyone else is, there’s a good chance for a series upset, not just a game or two.
Should the Pistons hold the Lakers under par, they have a really good shot.
Let’s face it, these are not your father’s Detroit Pistons. They’re more like your grandfather’s Fort Wayne Pistons, who averaged 74.3 points per game in their first (1948-49) NBA season.
Our current crew averaged 75.2 points (37.3 field goal percentage in its six games vs Indiana.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.