Pistons Coach Larry Brown talked to his team Monday.
Wait that is not quite accurate. Brown pleaded with his team. He demanded of his team and he singled guys out. He spoke with passion and pain.
By now Brown must know his team has tuned him out as if he is a bad radio station. There is pain and hurt in the Pistons dressing room following his flirtation with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now after weeks of denial Cleveland Brown admits the Cavs president job is probably his if he wants it.
All his players wanted of him was the same thing he demanded of them. They wanted him to be focused on the task at hand. They wanted him to remove outside distractions and think team first. Brown failed at that and he's spent the last couple of days trying to get his team back.
If they don't want to play for him, then at least play for themselves.
The Pistons need a lot of things before they face the Spurs in Game 3 tonight at The Palace, starring down a 0-2 deficit in this best of seven NBA Finals. They need fans to cheer them. They need to figure out the Spurs quick moving, back screen setting, slam dunking, three-point shooting funk in your face offense.
They need to find holes in the Spurs' smothering defense and begin playing as one heart beat rather than five strangers.
But more importantly they need Larry Brown. And Larry Brown needs them. If the Pistons are to crawl from this cave it will be with players and coach walking lock step. Brown knows it. That is why he's pleaded for their minds, spirits and emotion.
The players hate to admit to it. That is why we are not sure if Brown reached them.
We will find out pretty quickly. The first quarter tonight will tell us all we need to know about the Pistons. If they come out flat and get down by double digits again it will be painfully obvious that Brown did not reach them.
If they play with passion and move the ball as they have before then perhaps this is not quite Larry's Last Stand.
And let me say this right now. This great divide did not begin during the Spurs series. It was front and center as the Pistons battled the Miami Heat during that seven-game Eastern Conference Finals. I warned people on my radio show that a serious problem bubbled underneath. The problem is the Heat were not well enough or talented enough to take full advantage of it.
The Spurs are like chocolate to a teenager. They are so good that they expose every blemish.
The Pistons must show a pulse for us to take them seriously. They need to show that one bad whistle won't cause them to attack officials and check out of games.
The Pistons quite frankly have embarrassed this city. This has nothing to do with getting blown out twice in San Antonio. Their sportsmanship has been atrocious. If you are a young kid watching the Pistons throw temper tantrums like a three-year-old you must know this is not playing the right way.
We've seen Rasheed Wallace lying on the floor; Ben Wallace flip his lid and head band; Rip Hamilton contort his face a hundred times and Chauncey Billups and Brown get technical fouls for screaming at officials.
It is one thing to complain to officials. But the Pistons crossed the line by showing them up. Veteran officials don't play games. If you show them up they are more than happy to blow whistles on you.
The Pistons should know this by now.
The Pistons should also know this. This town loves them. They love their work ethic and spirit. And many people have forgiven them of their sins of the first two games of this series and tried to place blame elsewhere.
They walk in lock step with the Pistons when players complain about officials. They champion the player's who say they want more respect from the national media. The fans believe in the Pistons because the Pistons' way represents what this town is about.
The problem is the Spurs have zapped the spirit out of the Pistons. Brown is trying to breath life into a dying patient.
The question is does the patient want to be saved by this doctor?
We find out tonight.