Tuesday, May 31, 2005

IZZO WOULD TURN DOWN PISTONS JOB EVEN IF IT IS OFFERED

Michigan State fans can rest now. Tom Izzo will be your coach for at least another season.
Flip Saunders is the leading candidate to replace Larry Brown as Pistons coach. Izzo is also good friends with Saunders and knows how much the job means to him. He would not step in the way of a good friend.
Besides, Izzo's heart is with the Spartans. I've been told that even if the Pistons job is offered to him he would turn it down. He would do the smart thing and listen. There might be some uneasy moments for the Spartans, but bottom line is he is staying in East Lansing.
He has too much at stake with the Spartans next season. They are national title contenders and Izzo wants to see how far he can push what might be his best team since Mateen Cleaves and Morris Peterson were in the house.

COULD KALIMBA EDWARDS BE HEADING OUT OF TOWN?

Do not be surprised if the Detroit Lions release defensive end Kalimba Edwards as early as Wednesday following a brush with Southfield police. The Lions want to see what the charges are before deciding what to do.
Edwards got into a physical confrontation with police which is a no-no with the Lions.
The Lions tell players to cooperate with police when stopped and the organization can handle things later along with their attorney's. Edwards broke that rule and it might earn him one of those one-way bus tickets Bobby Ross used to talk about.
The Lions are really interested in what the charges are. Edwards is scheduled to appear in court later this afternoon.
I will keep you posted as I learn more.

BROWN DEMANDS AN APOLOGY FROM THE MEDIA

AUBURN HILLS -- I will personally apologize to Pistons Coach Larry Brown if he does not take the Cleveland Cavaliers front office job and returns to coach the Pistons next season.
That is what a fiery Brown demanded of the media Wednesday morning as more questions were fired at him about the Cavs job. He keeps lying and denying saying he has not spoken the Cavs and he does not know what anybody is talking about.
But Chad Ford of ESPN reported that the deal is done. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported the same thing. My people have been telling me Brown decided last November he won't coach next season.
"Are you all going to apologize to me, " Brown scolded to the media.
Yep. I will. If we are all wrong and Brown is a choir boy in all this then I will be the first to apologize to him. I will do it personally to him. I will do it on my radio show on AM 1270 The Sports Station, on my Fox Sports Report commentary and on this web log.
What's fair is fair.
However, his players do not believe Brown. The front office does not believe Brown.
Quite frankly Pistons players are angry with Brown. They think he is being hypercritical and can't wait to see him leave.
Here is the problem. Brown tells his players to do things the right way. He preaches team and harmony -- one for all and all for one. Then he goes out and breaks his own rules.
That is why guys are mad. But don't worry. They will play the game for themselves even if they are not playing for their coach.
It was quite interesting how no Pistons players would speak up for Brown. If they believed the media was digging up stuff just to be digging up stuff don't you think one of them would have told us off by now.
That has not happened because they know all of this is true. If it is not true then how come Brown refused to squash the rumors today? How come he has not addressed his team and told them all of this is a lie and not to worry about it?
If I am Brown I have to take a different look at the Cavs job. Every move he makes becomes public. I'd question an organization like that.
You know the old saying "loose lips sinks ships."
Brown and the Cavs will make a disastrous marriage. Both love the media glare and love to have their business out in public. It is not a championship combination.
If I were Brown I would call the Cavs and tell them to take their job and shove it. He cannot succeed there. This is a badly run organization and I would want no part of it.
Actually the Cavs should apologize to Brown for being so unprofessional.
But if he returns to the Pistons and is on the sidelines I will be man enough to say "Coach. I am sorry. We all blew it. "

FLIP SAUNDERS IS PISTONS TOP CHOICE

AUBURN HILLS -- The Pistons have targeted their man to replace departing coach Larry Brown.
The man is former Minnesota Timberwolves Coach Flip Saunders. And I am willing to bet there is already a gentleman's agreement in place.
Chances are he will replace Brown when LB jumps to become the Cleveland Cavaliers head man for a year or two.
Phil Jackson and Saunders are the top two candidates for this job. Chances are Jackson will take the Lakers job or hold out for the New York Knicks when they become a viable team again.
We cannot forget Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo. He could still be a wild card if the Saunders thing does not work out. Owner Bill Davidson loves Izzo. And Izzo has familiarized himself with the NBA game through a series of visits to the Pistons practice facility to see how things work.
So if you want to believe this is a two horse race I would not blame you.
But it appears as if Flip is the guy.
There have been a number of coaching vacancies. And have you noticed Saunders has not been rumored for any of them? His credentials are such that he can be picky and choosy. And the best job in the NBA is right here in Auburn Hills.
This team is built for championships.
Chauncey Billups approves. And that is key. He will tell the other guys who do not know Saunders why they should flip for him.
The detractors say he never won big in Minnesota despite having Kevin Garnett on the team. That is true. But look at the other candidates. What have they won? That Timberwolves were always talented but disfunctional. And in the end they got old and cranky. No one could right that ship.
And one more thing. How many NBA titles did Brown win before coming to the Pistons from Philadelphia.
None. But President Joe Dumars knew he was the right man for the job.
And Flip is the right man also. He took over a team that never had a winning season. Saunders helped turn it into a Finals contender.
The black mark on the team were all those first-round TKO's. That won't happen here for quite some time.
The Pistons do not need a great X and O's guy. They need someone who players will respect and listen to. With Billups paving the way they eventually will flip for Saunders.

BROWN WILL LEAVE PISTONS FOR CAVS

Hey guys. Larry Brown is leaving the Pistons to become president of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He can deny it all he wants. But I know some of the old heads who Brown confides in.
One told me Brown decided to leave the Pistons way back in November because he was burned out from the Olympics and did not enjoy coaching games any more.
Now he is telling me Brown will take the Cavs job.
So it is not official yet. I am sure Brown will deny it through out the playoffs. But he is gone.
Please write and tell me what you think?
And lets get this debate going on the web log? Who should replace him?
I would love to hear what you have to say about this.

Monday, May 30, 2005

ITS OFFICIAL. BROWN IS OFFICIALLY A DISTRACTION TO PISTONS

AUBURN HILLS -- Larry Brown is officially a distraction.
He is a detriment rather than an asset for the Pistons.
The timing of this flirtation with the Cleveland Cavaliers is like asking the pretty girl out after eating an onion sandwich.
Bad sandwich and bad timing.
Brown always talks about playing the right way. He preaches it to his team every day and he sprays those thoughts in the media during every press session.
So why doesn't Brown do the right thing?
Why is Brown so wrong in this?
Look. We all know Brown will not coach next season. In addition to health concerns the man is burned out. He cannot go through another 82 game regular season and playoffs. He is barely getting through this one with his sanity.
How is he going to rev it up and do it again?
He cannot.
But his entire focus should be on the Pistons. They are in trouble. They are at times lifeless and too often clueless in trying to stop this budding new super star named Dwyane Wade.
They need every bit of guidance and focus they can get. I have no doubt Brown is giving them guidance. But is there total focus? There sure doesn't seem to be.
You mean to tell me Tayshaun Prince is focused? Isn't this the defensive glove who smothered Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant? But Wade zips by him as if Prince is wearing frog man boots.
You mean to tell me Rip Hamilton is focused? Granted, his calf has ailed him. But his shooting average in this series is closer to Bobby Higginson's batting average than I care to think about.
You mean to tell me Chauncey Billups is focused? You know who I am talking about. This was the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player 11 months ago. A few days ago he committed eight turn overs -- in one half. He won another MVP Award. Most Vulnerable Player.
And you mean to tell me Ben Wallace is focused? This was the poster boy for bringing it every night who struggled to bring it every other night. Fear the fro is a refrain from the past. The Heat are burning the fro so often Big Ben is going to start sporting a Bozo hairdo.
The Pistons all roll their eyes and claim they have no idea what is happening with Brown. Sadly they are playing as if they know every last detail.
This has affected the team and at least plays a small part in them trailing the Miami Heat 2-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Brown should get some blame. But do you know who I blame more?
Everybody I talk to in the league says Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is getting bad advice. That is obvious. If he has the gall to disrupt a playoff series, he is obviously getting bad advice.
How is this any different than when Michigan State busted up the Liberty Bowl for Louisville and practically hired John L. Smith on the sidelines?
That was tacky. And this is tacky.
Brown not only should tell the Cavs to go to hell. But he should say if you want me come and court me when the playoffs are done and not a minute sooner.
But Brown won't do that because he loves to be courted and loved. Even though he shows annoyance to us, deep down he is dancing for joy.
"They love me!" They really do love me."
We all knew LB was high maintenance. But he needs to stop this immediately.
Let's return the focus back to basketball. Even the Heat with motor mouth coach Stan VanGundy have been able to do that.
And unless the Pistons' focus returns we will all be focused on Miami and San Antonio -- the cities that will share the 2005 NBA Finals.

LARRY BROWN ACCEPTS CAVS JOB?

Stay tuned my NBA people are telling me Pistons Coach Larry Brown may have accepted the Cleveland Cavaliers front office job or is pretty damn close. It is not on A-1 authority but I am checking it out. Stay tuned. I will up date as soon as I get more information.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

HEAT AND OFFICIALS DOOM UNFOCUSED PISTONS

AUBURN HILLS -- It is very rare that I blame officials for any loss.
I usually don't go there. I know fans get a jaded view of games and when they complain about the officials I usually tune them out.
But not this time. For one of the rare times in sports officiating played a major part in the Pistons losing a game. The Pistons played soft defense for much of Sunday's 112-103 loss to the Miami Heat at The Palace. They lost their composure down the stretch which is inexcusable for a defending champion.
But if you look closer there were a number of questionable calls in the second half. The officiating crew was terrible and the Pistons bore the brunt of many of these calls.
The Pistons did not keep their composure. They wilted and instead of focusing on the game they spent too much time complaining. Both Rasheed Wallace and Chauncey Billups were called for technical fouls in the fourth quarter. And Rip Hamilton was begging for one near the end.
Usually I dog them for that. This time I understand.
said Rip Hamilton.
This is not an NBA conspiracy. I do not believe for a second the league is rooting for a Heat-San Antonio Finals. Officials simply had a bad night, just as the Pistons did.
Certainly a number of you believe the Pistons are in trouble because Dwyane Wade continues to score at will and the Heat actually made their run when he was on the bench.
However, this series is far from over. It simply won't be easy for either team. For the third straight game the teams were tied with less than six minutes remaining.
You can expect just about every game to be that way.
So the key is who is smarter down the stretch and more composed. The Heat won that battle two out of three times. They will have to continue to win that battle if they are to win this series.

VAN GUNNED APOLOGIZES FOR PAINTING A BROAD BRUSH

Miami Heat Coach Stan Van gunned apologized to 99 percent of Pistons fans before Sunday's Eastern Conference Finals game at The Palace.
He admitted he dogged all of you when he spoke to a couple of Heat beat reporters. But he did not mean to. He is angry at the one or two percent of fans who take away the family behavior at sporting events.
Here is what he said.
"The people I am talking about are the one out of 100 people in there, " Van gunned said. " I bet 98 or 99 percent of people who come in here are good sports fans as I am when I watch other sports. There are events I don’t attend with my kids because of fans and you get tired of it. I do get amused by fans who think it is ok because they pay their money and they can come in and yell whatever they want. But to paint the entire crowd? It was unfair and it was uncalled for and for that I do apologize. But for those one percent (who cause problems) I don’t apologize. "
I followed up by telling Vagunneddy that Detroit fans are tired of getting beat up on. We hear it all the time from opposing fans, media and now coaches.
He nodded his head in agreement and said he understoodetritus's anger.
"Yeah absolutely, " Vagunneddy said. "But again we all gain reputations based on what we do too. So I am not the only one. I might be the latest one so people are sensitive to it because there has been a long line of people doing it so you can’t lay all of that on me. "

I asked Vgunnedndy if this was a ploy to take pressure off his team and place the focus on him?

"I wish I were that smart," Vgunnedndy said. "I was asked by our own two beat writers about the crowd here and do they go overboard and I answered it. The things I said I believe. There are things said and done here that are not done or said in other arenas and it is not allowed."

VAN GUNDY'S ARROWS STING BUT I SEE HIS POINT

The words were harsh. They stung and all they will get Miami Heat Coach Stan Van Gundy is more verbal abuse than he can imagine during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals at The Palace.
It was stupid of him to say it because all he did was stir up a hornets nest.
I disagree with what he said. But sorry, folks we deserved the whipping.
"Detroit, even in the regular season, has a particularly nasty crowd," Heat coach Stan Van Gundy told Miami reporters Friday. "They're not just loud. Those people will say anything and do anything. Quite honestly, if I was somebody sitting in the crowd, it would be embarrassing. I have never understood the idea because I bought a ticket to the game, I can sit there and yell anything I want."
You get what you ask for. And quite frankly this is what a lot of people in the NBA are thinking. They may not come out and say it, but it is on the minds of people.
Remember the brawl between fans and the Indiana Pacers? And there was the bomb threats and the quarter toss to the back of Allen Iverson’s head.
Almost lost in all of this was the sexual innuendo directed at Heat Assistant Coach Keith Askins. And I have heard other nasty things where security guards threatened to kick fans out if they continued.
I was invited to a suite by some friends and they had to call security because some drunks invited themselves in and began drinking the booze.
Now do you see why we have the reputation? Yes, it is just a few knuckleheads during a few isolated incidents.
But isn’t that the case most of the time. How many times have you dogged another fan base based on the actions of a few?
It is what we routinely do in life. Now the arrows are being directed at Palace fans.
It stings. It hurts. But sadly it is deserved.
For the most part fans were on their best behavior during the Philadelphia and Indiana series. There were no incidents directed at players.
In fact Pacers forward Stephen Jackson said he enjoyed Detroit fans during his extended stay here. He said they were loud, but mostly they were proud of their team.
“I have no problem with that,” he told me before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
I am sure you will be angry at the words of Stan Van Gundy and this puts him on your Ten Most wanted list along with Ron Artest, Claude Lemieux and Jermaine O’Neal.
But think about it. Do you see why he believes this? His team was attacked verbally. He saw others attacked in his building.
We hate when people call us out.
But this time I see the man’s point even though I am sure he regrets his words by now.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND THOUGHTS

I have a link to this blog called sitemeter and one of the things it does is tell me what time zones people visit this blog from.
I am happy to report that we are getting about 350 visitors a day to this blog less than a month into it.
I also notice that I am getting about 8-10 visitors from the Middle East time zone. It is not every day. But they pop up from time to time. I hope it is from some soldiers who are able to take time out from the rat race there and find time to enjoy news and commentary from home.
I hope this blog and many of the writings from home are allowing our soldiers to escape and relax, even if it is for just a few minutes.
I think of the men and women who are sacrificing for us every day. They may think we have forgotten. But we have not.
Nor will we until you return home where you belong.
Hang tough. Be strong. And don't forget home. We want you back.

IS LARRY BROWN GROOMING TOM IZZO TO REPLACE HIM?

Many of us have come to the conclusion that Larry Brown won't coach the Pistons next season. That decision was made a long time ago -- even before the brawl at The Palace and Brown's latest surgery.
So who replaces him? I'd put my money on Flip Saunders. But don't be surprised if Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo becomes the next Pistons coach and his buddy Tom Crean moves from Milwaukee to East Lansing.
Brown is down. He is tired, burned out and hurting. One of my league sources told me Brown talked about retirement during training camp. It is a story that has circulated with the old heads in the league for a while.
Even if Brown did not have health issues he would leave the game because of burn out.
The drain of coaching in the NBA is enough for a young man. It is more difficult for a man who is 64 and in constant pain. Brown is fragile enough that I do not want him coaching the Pistons next season.
He would be drained and unmotivated.
Free Press columnist Michael Rosenberg does present an interesting debate about Brown. The Rose Man is stressed over all of Brown's flirtations with other teams. He said people have been relatively calm over this. And he said the standards would be different and the outrage too loud to describe if Tayshaun Prince's representatives had talked to another team during the playoffs.
He is right.
However, Brown cannot help it if people contact his representatives. It is something that happens quite frequently in the NBA. Teams secretly call coaches or GM's to see if they are happy and if they might be interested in trying something new should things not work out with their old team.
Everybody knows Brown is about to jet town. The Cavs know he won't coach next season. But what about having Brown in the front office should he decide he wants to coach the following season? The Cavs would have their man right under their noses.
Ninety percent of these secret conversations never become public. The problem with Brown is he built a network of media owls in New York, Philadelphia and Boston who have watched over him and leaked things that might benefit him.
These guys know every time Brown sneezes and they leak information he does not want to become public.
His best plan of action for the next 12 months is to do nothing. He should call Cleveland and say "thanks but no thanks" to the general manager's job. He should tell Pistons President Joe Dumars that he needs time away from the game as soon as the playoffs are over.
All the things we've read in the paper the past few weeks are nothing new for Dumars. Mentally he has juggled a list of possible replacements for much of the season.
That brings us to Izzo. He recently talked to the Minnesota Timberwolves in Grand Rapids about becoming head coach of that franchise. He won't take that job.
I am convinced Izzo is on the Pistons or bust campaign. Izzo and Brown have formed a bond the past two years. They've met several times in the Pistons practice facility and Izzo has sat in on a few practices and coaches meetings.
It is almost as if Brown is grooming him for the job, telling him how to handle practice and players, how to deal with league officials and the media. My guess is Brown is Izzo's Yoda. He is laying the ground work for Izzo to join the NBA fraternity if he so chooses.
We know Pistons owner Bill Davidson loves Izzo. That is enough to get him the job even if Dumars objects.
Stay tuned. Something strange is about to happen.
(You can email me at Fosternews@aol.com. My voice mail is 313-222-1494

Friday, May 27, 2005

RISKY BUSINESS IS COMING TO A CLOSE

As some of you know I opened a candy store coffee shop in Lakeside Mall called Candy Express/Seattle's Best Coffee.
We are closing it after this weekend unless a miracle happens in the next three days.
I tried my hand in the business world and it did not work. To be honest it is the biggest mistake I made in my life and it is something I must pay for for years to come.
But I sure can make a mean latte.
I got poor advice from people who were supposed to help me. But I am not writing this to blame them. I am writing this to blame myself. This is my fault and it is my responsibility to recover.
I am fighting to keep from filing bankruptcy. It is possible if I can get these debts extended over many years rather that many months. My mistake is I put my family at risk. It is something I never wanted to do.
And there is another major issue. I love my kids Celine and Little B. There has been a very close bond between me and Little B especially. He hates it when daddy leaves and grabs my leg when I leave for the store on Saturdays. I need to cut back to spend more time with him and resume having family day which used to be every Friday evening. Any hardship I face will be worth the extra time I spend with him
I spoke with a business consultant who said we could earn a small profit at Candy Express if I quit radio and ran the store full time. I declined the offer because I believe our show (The Sports Inferno heard daily from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. on 1270 AM) has great potential. I want to ride this show and see how far it goes.
I got into business for two reasons. I was convinced I was going to be fired at my newspaper job and thought this could be a new beginning if that happened. I also was not doing full time radio and I was coming to grips that my radio career was coming to an end.
2. I wanted to make some cash to start a college fund for my two kids and then sell it.
Well I was the one who got the education. It has been an expensive education, but I am man enough to deal with it. I have to do it for my wife and kids. They never asked for this.
Now it is up to me to be a big man and make life right again.
Let me tell you a brief story of where I came from. I remember living in a rat infested neighborhood where boys used to stand on the garbage cans and pelt rats with bricks. One morning I woke up early for breakfast and one of the rats was invading my box of cereal. It scared the hell out of me.
As I grew older I vowed to never put myself or my family in that predicament. We are not close to that happening. But my motivation for the next few years will be that rat and that box of cereal. I don't want to return to that.
I earn a good living. I work at The Detroit News and WXYT. I do commentary on Fox Sports Net. I am still earning a nice living and will look for more freelance opportunities. I simply need to chip away at a monster that won't go away for a few years.
Or I could hit lotto (see I can still laugh).
If anyone has any advice I sure could use it now.
But do not feel sorry for me. One of the benefits of business is I got to meet a lot of people and listened to their stories. And they were sad ones. I got applications from people earning less than $5 an hour.
I talked to people who were laid off, who came in with their final paycheck to get some candy before trying to look for another job. These are the people I feel sorry for. I hired some to help them. I knew I could not pay much, but I always told people to work here and use it as a spring board to move on to something bigger and better.
I am proud to say a few were able to do that.
I helped some people and that makes me happy.
As far as this business is concerned I have shed my last tear. I am now going to fight for my family.
My two kids will never see a rat in their kitchen.
Daddy will make sure of that.

(Candy Express is located in the food court by Sears in Lakeside Mall in Sterling Heights. All candy is 50 percent off. Come clean us out if you are in the neighborhood.)
(My email address is Fosternews@aol.com and my voice mail is 313-222-1494)

Thursday, May 26, 2005

TOO MUCH FLASH. WADE BURNS PISTONS FOR 40

Flash listened and learned.
Dwyane Wade read the criticism in the newspapers and instead of getting mad, he took it in stride after a terrible Game 1 against the Pistons.
He listened to his old coach at Marquette Tom Crean and his current coach Stan Van Gundy. And finally came the morning call at 3:45 from Shaquille O'Neal.
"When he called I thought he was crazy," Wade said.
They all told him to relax, slow the game down and allow it to come to him.
The second year player came armed with a new game and new attitude. He burned the Pistons for 40 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the Heat's 92-86 victory over the Pistons.
But despite his brilliant play the game came down to the final five minutes again. In Game 1 the Pistons rattled Wade and the Heat on an 10-1 run to break a late tie.
But this time Wade did not wilt under the heat of the Pistons who roared back from a 14-point deficit to take the lead. Instead he created the heat by scoring 20 points in the fourth to pull away from the sticky Pistons and even this series 1-1 heading into Game 3 Sunday at The Palace.
"He was very motivated," said teammate Damon Jones. "He came to me and said just be in your spot because I am going to attack the basket very hard. If those guys come I am going to be kicking. If not I am going aggressively to the basket."
Flash entertained Heat fans with one of the most memorable performances in recent playoff history. He attacked the basket like a battering ram and he blew by normally dependable Pistons defenders as if they were pylons.
It was a great test for a great young player. The Pistons humbled him in Game 1, but they did not break him. He figured out the tricky Pistons defense, measured Tayshaun Prince, and single handedly sank the Pistons.
It was a Flashy night in Miami. But it was also a night where the Pistons failed to match the Heat's energy early in the game. They appeared to play like a team that had already accomplished its mission to Miami.
They simply wanted to steal home court and rush home.
The Pistons were already on the flight home in the first half. That is why Chauncey Billups turned the ball over at an alarming rate; why Prince got into early foul trouble and Rasheed Wallace missed shots he normally makes.
"We came to get one and we got one, " said Rip Hamilton. "Now we have to go home and take care of business and feed off our fans. We are ready for that. "
It is only human nature to relax when people are telling you "Mission Accomplished." The Pistons simply need to take care of business at home to advance to their second straight NBA Finals.
To their credit they rallied and nearly stole a game they had no business winning. They showed character late. And that should be applauded. But they were blinded by the flash of Dwyane Wade.
And now they have a new problem. The young blood picked himself off the floor with a little help from his friends. Now he is confident and ready to steal home-court back from the Pistons.
Now the Pistons must listen, learn and respond in the same manner that the young man from Miami did.
I wonder who will be making late night calls for the Pistons Saturday night.
(My email address is Fosternews@aol.com and my voice mail is 313-222-1494).

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

MY ALL TIME PISTONS DEFENSIVE TEAM

DENNIS RODMAN: He is the best defender of all time because he could guard four positions and was the game's best rebounder for a good chunk of his career. Rodman was strong, athletic and played every game as if it were his last. How many fast breaks were led by a Rodman rebound or block? Too many to count.

BEN WALLACE: You need help on defense? Ben is the best at providing it. He is a great leaper and plays the game similar to Rodman. He lacks pure offensive skills so he gets by with defense and rebounding. Wallace is one of the few guys in the league who can control a game on the defensive end.

JOE DUMARS: He earned his reputation by guarding Michael Jordan, considered the best player of all time. Dumars did not always shut him down, but he sure did make things difficult for MJ. Dumars used his strength and instinct to shut guys down. He reminded me of a defensive back sometimes in football.

BOB LANIER: He had knee problems for much of his career, but Lanier guarded some of the best centers of all time and made it difficult for them. He was not a leaper, but he was always where he needed to be.

TAYSHAUN PRINCE: He has not done it for very long, but Prince is a very good all around defender. His block of Reggie Miller in the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals is one of the greatest players in Pistons history and turned that series around to the Pistons favor.

STRONGEST D IN THE D? BAD BOYS OR 2005 PISTONS?

The Pistons opening game victory over Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals was not their best defensive game of all time. But this team made some of the most dramatic and athletic defensive plays in Pistons history.
Some of the plays they made were astonishing, even on television.
Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace and Tayshaun Prince are the best trio of shot blockers in the game.
But lets make comparisons to an era not so long ago. The Bad Boy Pistons who challenged the Boston Celtics in the 80s before breaking through to NBA titles in 1989 and 1990 were a great defensive team also.
Who was the better defensive team? The Bad Boys? Or the current Boys?

1989 PISTONS

Dennis Rodman and Joe Dumars were the leaders of the pack on defense. Rodman is the Pistons greatest defender of all time. At 6-foot-7 and with boundless energy he moved his feet better than anyone and was surprisingly strong. He guarded shooting guards, small forwards, power forwards and centers. One of Rodman's best plays was a block of 7-foot center Hakeem Olajuwon to preserve a Pistons victory at the buzzer.
Dumars was fundamentally sound and rarely fell for pump fakes. He stayed on the floor and forced people to go to spots they did not want to go to.
Isiah Thomas was not a great defender but he made big defensive plays. There were nights no-name guards would light him up. But I do remember when he was snubbed for the Dream Team he not only lit John Stockton up but shut him down.
It was very tough to score on the Pistons inside. Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn took up a lot of space and routinely knocked guys to the floor who dared venture into the paint. Mahorn was underrated as a defender. I remember him guarding James Worthy who was one of the slickest offensive plays in the game at the time.
John Salley stood 7-foot and had a Tayshaun Prince like wing span. When motivated he swept the glass and made it difficult for opposing centers to score.

2005 PISTONS
How do you escape the forest? That is the question opponents ask when they venture into the paint. Prince and the Wallace Gang are all arms, legs and attitude. I've seen guards dribble into the forest and disappear. The next thing you know the ball is going the other way after one of these guys blocks the shot.
They take pride in that. Wallace has won defensive player of the year three of the last four years. He is not a great on the ball defender, but his help defense and rebounding are suburb.
Prince might be the Pistons best all around defender. He can play off guys and still block their shots because of his long wing span. Rasheed Wallace came in with a defensive reputation, but I thought he struggled last year because he did not play smart defense.
This year he is playing with more discipline.
Chauncey Billups is emerging as a solid defensive player. He still allows too much dribble penetration but it must be difficult keeping guys out of the paint since traveling is no longer called.
Rip Hamilton tries. He is better. But lets face it he is the weakest link.

CONCLUSION
The 1989 Pistons were a hair better. Yes, they gave up more points. But they played in an era where there were more offensive players on each team you had to be concerned with. The Boston Celtics featured Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. The Lakers went with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and James Worthy.
The rules were different back then. You could hand check more than today.
The 1989 Pistons sustained defensive intensity for longer periods. And they used their defense to make runs in big games. Isiah Thomas used to call it playing on a string where all parts worked together.
They were more fundamentally sound on defense and played closer to the Earth.
This current team is more athletic and covers the entire court better. They take away second and third options which drives opponents nutty. They are more prone to lapses than the 1989 team, but when they get it going it is nearly impossible to sustain much offense against them.
One impressive thing they do is they know how to shut down opponents' best scorers, causing teams to falter and get flustered.
One big difference between the two teams?
Any guard who ventures into the lane today gets their shots blocked into the second row. The Bad Boys used to launch guards into the second row.
(my email address is Fosternews@aol.com and my voice mail is 313-222-1494)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

DETROIT BASHING: OLD, TIRED AND PREDICTABLE

A number of people have asked me to speak out on Miami columnist Dan Le Batard and his bashing of Detroit in a recent column previewing the Pistons-Miami Heat Eastern Conference Finals.
My first reaction was why bother? I've read the same column dozens of times before. I've read it in New York, Miami, Orlando, Denver, Los Angeles, Chicago, Milwaukee and even here in Detroit.
This is not news my friends.
Besides, you ain't seen nothing yet. Wait until Super Bowl XL. These guys are sharpening their knives as we speak.
It is the same tired dribble.
Let me stoop to Le Batard's level and start calling him Dan Retard. Now if I were to run into him he would say "It's not like I haven't heard that before. Why not try something original?"
He'd be right. And that is my point.
Why respond to every yahoo who takes shots at Detroit? If we were to do that we'd have to open up the Anti-Detroit Defamation League.

Here is one of his passages from the Miami Herald which ran in the Free Press.
"Detroit would have to add Miami's beaches, weather and nightlife, New York's culture and restaurants and L.A.'s entertainment to upgrade to being merely awful. The fans burn things to celebrate victories, so about the only positive thing you can say about the city is that arson is never a problem around the Lions.

In the history of man, has anyone ever gone to Detroit to vacation? The next tourist to arrive in Detroit for pleasure will be the first, and will have to be there only because all the vacation packages to Iraq were booked."

Why do people like Le Batard write columns like this? They have to.

They don't know enough about the two teams to write about the series. He doesn't know much about the Pistons. So he can fill a good percentage of his column by ripping Detroit. It passes as cute in Miami and it angers people in Detroit.

Mission accomplished.

This is my frustration with my business. I cannot write a column because I have something to say. Others with nothing to say are allowed to write columns and get on national television and be media celebrities.

They write the same thing over and over again. They do not challenge readers to think. They do not want to be advocates. They exchange ideas with other columnists and mimic each other like parrots.

And shame on the Free Press. It allows this junk to get into its paper every time a Detroit team has a big series. It allows out of town columnists to write the same thing. It is as old and tired as when television cameras go to a sports bar and ask fans who is going to win the big game.

"DDDDDDDDDdeeeeeeeeeeeeetttttttttttrrrrrrrrrrrooooooooooiiiiiiiiittttttttttttt!!!!!!"

"WWWWWWWWWWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

That is old and tired, just like Le Batard.

Monday, May 23, 2005

DON'T BLAME RUST OR INJURIES. PISTONS WERE THE BETTER TEAM

I don't want to hear about long layoffs or Shaquille O'Neal's injury.
Please spare me every sob story that will come out of Miami with its apologetic media. The Pistons won Game 1 of the Eastern Conference 90-81 in the same manner in which they beat Philadelphia and Indiana.
They shut down the Heat right when the Heat thought they were getting hot. And ladies and gentlemen we saw the difference between these two teams in the final five minutes of the game.
The difference is simple. The Pistons have experienced the frenzy and heat of the final five minutes in intense playoff action a dozen times before. When the red light turned on signaling crunch time we saw the Pistons turn prime time, holding the Heat to one point down the stretch.
We saw Rip Hamilton hitting shots he could not make earlier and we saw Tayshaun Prince turn dead eye killer.
We saw the scowl and the howl of Rasheed Wallace. When this guy is screaming like a wolf and looking at folks with that know it all grin, then the Pistons are the best in the land.
And we saw the best coach in the NBA, Larry Brown, turn Miami Coach Stan VanGundy into mush.
Teams follow the lead of their leaders. VanGundy was frantic and confused, kicking his heals. His team played the same way. The Heat did not kick its heals. It kicked the ball away along with a chance to beat the defending World Champions.
The Heat made every bad play in the book down the stretch. That included ignoring Shaq in the middle. Instead they threw up half bait shots, many of which were swatted away by the Pistons.
This was a text book victory by the Pistons. They placed six players in double figures and I witnessed some of the most astonishing defensive plays I've seen in a while. The Pistons turn ever shot into an adventure. That is why they should be favorites to win this series. And that is why the Heat scored 25 points below its playoff average.
But the Pistons were cast as underdogs because most people usually pick the team with the best player. The Pistons, however, defy logic because they are so splendid on the defensive end.
In Miami they will cry how O'Neal was worn down because of his injury. I don't want to hear it.
He came out on fire as many of us expected. But Shaq wears down in games where he is pressed. He no longer is a guy who can dominate for 82 games in the regular season and then roar through the playoffs. There are too many miles on those legs along with the usual bumps and bruises.
And poor Dwyane Wade still does not know what train hit him. He was guarded by four men who used four different tactics. He didn't know if he was getting blasted by the A-Train or the commuter to Ann Arbor.
The Pistons defense wore on him. It caused him to shoot quicker than he wanted and in spots he did not feel comfortable in. He missed 18 of 25 shots. But Wade did not have an off game. Rather he was thrown off by the Pistons.
I dare say the guy looked like Kobe Bryant during the 2004 NBA Finals.
But this is just one game. The series is not over and there is plenty of hoops to be played.
But for one night we saw what a real champion roars in crunch time and how a pretender swoons.

NO BOCCE FOR PLAYBOY

ORION TOWNSHIP -- The salesman was a slick, smooth talking guy from California.
His host was not as slick. He was just a regular guy with lots of money who lives outside of Detroit. The slick salesman was trying to convince the not so slick Anthony Battaglia to use his 32,000 Palazzo di Bocce as a place to host one of the many parties that will hit the Detroit area for Super Bowl XL.
The salesman represented Playboy Magazine. And he was telling Battaglia all the things a "regular guy" would want to hear. He talked about the celebrities who'd come by. He talked about the drinking and pretty women and the sex that might happen because you just never know what might happen when folks are young and pretty and have a little booze in them.
The pay was great. Battaglia simply needed to give his place up for two nights and he'd be paid $425,000.
That is not bad for closing your eyes, turning your back and turning your place over to Playboy.
But Battaglia is a man of honor. He said no to nearly a half million bones and told Playboy to look elsewhere.
So there will be a Playboy or Maxim party in Detroit Super Bowl week. It just won't be at Palazzo di Bocce's. My guess is two of the hottest Super Bowl parties will be in Windsor.
How many of us would turn down that kind of cash to do the right thing?
I am curious to know if you would. Write me and let me know what you would do in that position.
This comes at a time when out of towners will drop millions into our local economy. Already condo owners near Ford Field are lining up high rollers to rent their condos from $3,000-$5,000 per night. For that kind of money I not only would rent out my place, but I'd take folks over to the game on piggy back.
If you know of someone looking to snag two of the condo sights let me know. I got connections.

BOWLING FOR DOLLARS

The big sporting event during most Super Bowls is golf. The media, celebrities and players are treated to rounds of golf at the finest courses in town. That won't be the case in Detroit unless someone erects a domed golf course in the next few months.
Golf in February is not much fun.
Instead golf will be replaced by bowling. The word is some of the top end bowling establishments are being contacted by the Super Bowl XL Committee to host high roller bowling parties.
Bowling is the new hot sport now. Have you seen the celebrity bowling series yet? It is actually fun to watch sports celebrities flick balls down the lane like they were playing marbles.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

WILL O'NEAL PLAY MONDAY? IS THE POPE A CATHOLIC?

AUBURN HILLS -- They are playing possum in Miami.
They are trying to make us believe Shaquille O'Neal's decision to play in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals is a game time decision.
What? Do they think we are fools?
We all know Shaq Diesel will be in the starting line up when the stakes are high and the opposition is real. This is not the junior varsity Washington Wizards. This is the defending champion Pistons.
O'Neal practiced for the first time Saturday in two weeks. He is nursing a thigh contusion that has limited his play and kept him out of the last two games of the Wizards series. Even without him the Heat swept Washington to end that series and give big man much needed rest before this series.
'This is usually the time where I try to raise my game a little bit, [but] I've been limited because of a freak injury,'' O'Neal told reporters in Miami. "I've been kind of down, because this is new to me.''
The Pistons must anticipate that O'Neal will raise his game to NBA Finals levels. That is when he routinely scores more than 30 points a game and controls series like no other. I've heard the Pistons are preparing to face Miami with Shaq and without him.
Bad move.
Prepare every waking moment as if the big man will be there, because you know he will.
The Heat cannot afford to give away the first game of this series at home. Monday's game is more important to the Heat than the Pistons. Giving up home-court edge in the opening minutes of a big series is a no-no.
Besides, O'Neal knows everybody plays hurt this time of year. This is what separates good players from champions. O'Neal is a champ and one of the greatest players of all time.
He will be there just as certainly as Ben Wallace will.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

CLASSY MOMENT DURING MILLER'S FINAL ROUND

It is always tough to say good bye to a legend.
When one of the great ones steps away it is a reminder of our own mortality, that the games we play outside the professional stage won't last forever. It is a reminder I won't do radio or television forever. The writing in The News will some day come to an end as will this blog that is so enjoyable to write.
I thought Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas and Michael Jordan would still be playing today, showing us the same moves they did in their prime. But of course that is not possible.
Father time marches on. And he carries us along with him.
Another left us Thursday night.
Indiana Pacers all-time leading scorer Reggie Miller got pushed toward retirement by the scrappy Pistons 88-79, ending this Eastern Conference semifinal in six games and giving us the much anticipated Pistons-Miami Heat match up.
But I am not thinking Heat right now. Miller deserves his own send off and Pistons Coach Larry Brown deserves his own very special moment also.
When Miller said so long it made the rest of us a little older, a little grayer and perhaps a half step slower. He seemed to be around the game forever. But father time catches up with all of us. It finally got Miller after 18 seasons (I think) and he has decided he can no longer go on.
He finished his career with 25,297 points, 2,560 three-point shots and enough dramatic moments to fill a stage.
He challenged New York and won. He challenged Michael Jordan and lost most of the time, but still came away with a few impressive victories. Miller time was always dangerous time because he flicked that three-point shot like a serpent sticking his tongue out.
It was a quick and deadly shot that sank a lot of dreams.
The bad thing for Miller is he never won a title. The Bulls or Knicks or Bad Boys all stood in the way. And it was the Pistons who stopped him on his final journey.
The Pistons played a classic road game. They withstood the Pacers emotions. They fought off a cheering crowd at Conseco Field house that did not want to let go of Miller. And they finally clawed out a big win with little plays at the end that all added up.
They won by hitting big shots and making big stops. They won by digging for loose balls and turning possessions into power plays.
They needed a classic win to finish off a classic player.
"He went out with guns a blazing, " Brown said of Miller.
And Brown made one of the classiest moves in sports. When the end was near and Pacers Coach Rick Carlisle took Miller out of the game for his final curtain call, Brown prolonged it by calling time out.
He did not stop there. He gathered his team at half court to join in the love fest.
It was a touching moment. And it came from a league that has given us guys missing shots to create false triple doubles. It is a league where players talk about themselves in the third person and sometimes treat fans as if they are pond scum.
Brown understood what this moment meant to Indianapolis and the NBA. He put the cherry in a great send off.
And he put the class back in the NBA.

LOYOLA HIGH SCHOOL CHARITY EVENT AT THE DAC

I want to introduce you to Loyola High School in Detroit. It is one of two catholic high schools in Detroit and the good folks there are doing good things in our community.
Loyola does not take the best and the brightest. It helps at risk boys and gives them a chance to be the best and the brightest. Their cause is so worthy that I have decided to help out and I invite you to do the same.
I am serving as emcee of the 9th Annual Loyola High School Benefit on Friday June 3 at the outside parking lot of the Detroit Athletic Club. The pregame party begins at 5 p.m. and it is a very short walk to Comerica Park for that night's game against the Baltimore Orioles.
Don't worry about dressing up. Yes, there will be a couple of suits there but dress is casual.
So come by, bring a friend, say hello and help a worthy cause.
There will be raffles, sports memorabilia silent auctions and the main prize will be a Super Bowl raffle. The winner gets two tickets to Super Bowl XL in Ford Field.
Tickets for the event or Super Bowl raffle can be purchased by calling the school at 313-861-2407.
I hope to see you out there.

SAY SO LONG TO MILLER TIME TONIGHT

People are making a big deal out of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals possibly being Reggie Miller's final game should the Pacers lose to the Pistons. The emotions should be high.
But remember this, the Pacers already played would could have been Miller's final game at Conseco against Boston and lost.
The Pistons broke the Pacers' spirit in the third quarter of Game 5. Look for the Pistons to withstand an early storm and win tonight's game. It won't be easy, but even the Pacers know who the better team is now.

** By the way if the Pistons win tonight look for Game 1 to be in Miami Monday night.


** Condo owners near Ford Field are asking anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 per night to rent their places during Super Bowl week. Some are even renting out their places for much less during Major League Baseball's All-Star festivities.
I know one of the condo owners and she asked if I knew of any news organizations that might want to rent her place out. I told her with the cut backs in our business she had better try to get Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan or someone with a deep bank account.

** I remember a few years ago thinking how silly it was to have a Ferris wheel and merry go round at Comerica Park. Well it was not so silly Wednesday night when I took my three-year-old son Little B to his first baseball game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
We were in the WXYT suite with clients and Little B wanted some fresh air. He loved both rides and was dancing in the food court after we finished.
I've always heard wonderful stories of fathers taking their sons to their first baseball games. Now I know the feeling. It was great seeing him smile on the rides and then trying to make heads or tails of the baseball game.
Even as we left he talked about wanting to return. It was a wonderful evening.

** The University of Michigan claims the diaper affect of its new uniforms won't show when the players wear their new uniforms this fall. Well if that is the case then they should get a couple of players to model the uniforms so Wolverine fans can see for themselves. The home blue uniform looks terrible as is.
But U-M and Nike say the diaper is part of new age technology to make the uniforms more form fitting. I want to see this for myself.

** My media brothers and sisters are terrible some times. After the Free Press found sports columnist Mitch Albom not guilty of making up stories and excusing him the paper's new nickname is The Detroit Free Pass.


** Former University of Kentucky basketball player Rex Chapman said he was told by Wildcat officials to not date black women. Chapman, who is white, believed in equal opportunity dating. The school worried about the image of its basketball star and thought Wildcat fans would be more comfortable with him dating white girls.
That is a shame the school felt that way. I do believe love should be color blind. And I do believe we should stay out of peoples' private lives.
I am cool with my son or daughter dating outside their race. I only want them to be with people who they like and who treats them right.

** Many believe Kwame Kilpatrick won't be re-elected mayor of the City of Detroit. He is in big trouble but I am not convinced the big fella' will fall. Look for Team Kilpatrick to start telling folks in Detroit that the media (code white media) is trying to decide who the next mayor is. They will say the decision should be up to the people of Detroit, not the suburban media.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

HURRICANE MITCH BLOWS THROUGH TOWN: CLAIMS TWO VICTIMS

The Mitch Albom investigation is complete and the Free Press sports columnist is painting himself out to be a victim.
Unfortunately I sat next to the real victims during Tuesday's Pistons-Pacers game at The Palace. The real victims in this are Free Press sports columnists Drew Sharp and Michael Rosenberg, who never asked to be involved.
But the newspaper they loved are using them as bullet proof vests to protect their prized possession whom they fear will be taken hostage by the journalism community.
After a five week investigation on allegations Albom made up stories the only news the Free Press was willing to print was that Mitch steals quotes, alters them to fit what he is trying to say and feeds off the hard work of other journalists.
I knew the Free Press would wimp out on this and not do anything to Albom. But why drag Boodini and Rosie in this?
The answer is simple. They fear a Mitch witch hunt will continue. Other publications are likely to look into Albom's dark past. And they may demand that the Free Press make Albom walk the plank into murky shark infested waters. And the Freep can always say "Fine. If that is what you want. But look who is chained to Mitch's ankles. If Mitch goes down, then so shall others."
It is a nasty way to do business. But the Free Press is willing to tick off the rest of its columnists, most of its staff and its investigation team to protect Mitch.
The message is clear. Albom is more important than all of these people combined.
Drew and Mike are the real victims. They were minding their own business when they got caught in the Mitch tidal wave.
Let me take a time out to say Drew is one of my boys. I have known him for 23 years. So if you want to scream bias, then go ahead. Since I've known him all he wanted to do is believe in the Free Press. He wanted to believe in its dreams, ethics and everybody who worked there.
Since becoming a columnist all he wants is his shot at commentating on the day's events, go to big events and rag on the Big Ten every other week.
That is not much to ask.
Rosenberg is new at the game. He is learning and making an impact. He writes things that make you think. It is the goal of every columnist. He too never asked to get involved in this.
Yet the Freep hung both out to dry, pointing out they used unattributed quotes to bolster their columns in the past. But their transgressions are no where as severe as Mitch's.
They did not make up stories. Mitch did.
They did not alter quotes to fit their stories. Mitch did.
They did not lie to readers. Mitch did.
They did not put to former Michigan State basketball players in the stands during the Final Four. Mitch did.
They did not ask for this. Mitch did.
This is another sad chapter in Detroit journalism. We are all victims.
I've already heard from folks, angry over something I wrote or said on the radio, accuse me of making stuff up. Their reasoning is if the king of Detroit sports can do it, who the hell am I?
I only have one answer for them. The first time I lie in the Detroit News is the last time I do it.
There might be an investigation that lasts hours, not weeks, before I am shown the door.
My message will be "See ya. Wouldn't Want to be Ya."
We've all been dragged into this Mitch thing. But no where to the extent of Boodini and Rosie. It is a shame and they deserve better. They deserve an apology from Mitch and the Free Press.
But I am now taking the advice of some of my friends and taking the high road. I simply wanted to get this off my chest and come to the defense of two men who cannot fight back.
So if Mitch can forgive those who have criticized him. Then I forgive him for dragging down our profession with him.

MITCH ALBOM LETTER TO HIS SUPPORTERS

Hi, Mitch here. Just a heads up that you may hear about a story in the Detroit Free Press, my newspaper, which ran today (Monday). It is the culmination of a full-scale investigation that was launched the night of April 7th, after my apology for the mistake I made in my April 3rd column.
Five full time reporters and one full time editor were dispatched to look into anything and everything about me, I suppose due the hysterical climate surrounding journalism right now. They asked athletes if they actually smiled when I said they smiled. They checked football teams to be sure I was there at 6 a.m. when I said I was there at 6 a.m.
The story concludes that after a review of 600 of my columns, plus checking into every rumor that ever floated around about me, they found absolutely no factual errors in my work, and that every rumor was baseless.
This is very good news. I have always been proud of my journalism, and confident in how I practiced it, and while I’m not happy about having to go through this colonoscopy, at least I know I have a clean bill of health.
There will be mention in the story about quote attribution issues at the Free Press, something that came up as a result of this long search. Columnists at our paper, including me, had not been under strict guidelines for attribution of every quote from its original source and thus, sometimes it happened, sometimes it didn’t. I suspect that policy will be tightened as of now.
You should know that I have not been accused of anything in this, nor will there be any discipline, suspension or what have you. Simply a tightening of the policy for all the writers there, including me. My publisher’s statement spoke about how glad she was that rumors were proven false and how no factual errors were ever located, and how grateful she was for all the column subjects who had written in to attest to my thorough journalism.
So once more, here is the summation: five reporters, six weeks, nothing. That’s the news. Actually great news. Meanwhile, this whole thing has taught me the difference between what’s really important in this business and what isn’t, and what’s been most important is people like you and your belief in me. It has been part of the shining ray that kept me going.
I thank you forever for that, and hope this is the last time you hear about me in the news – unless I make the Olympic luge team.

Your friend,

Mitch

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

PISTONS SIZZLE AS THE PACERS FIZZLE.

AUBURN HILLS -- Everyone will remember the punch and the jam.
But Chauncey Billup's finest moment in the Pistons 12-minutes of hell was the bump and the grind.
That is when the desperate Pacers attempted to post 6-foot-8 Stephen Jackson on the low block against Billups. But Billups moved his feet, held his ground and shoved Jackson into a bad position on the low block and ultimately into a turnover.
Moments later he ran for a lose ball and punched it half way down court to Rasheed Wallace who brought the house down with a jam off the free lance assist. It is the moment people will remember most during the Pistons victory march.
Not me. The Pistons won this game because they harassed the Pacers into hurried shots and frustration. Billups' little bump and grind with Jackson may have gone unnoticed by many, but it was one of the subtle little plays that helped propel the Pistons to an 86-67 victory over the Pacers at The Palace and a 3-2 lead in this best of seven Eastern Conference semifinal.
"We were all alert and ready and helping one another," Billups said. "When one guy got by, the next guy was rotating over and we were contesting shots. I thought it was a good effort on both ends of the court."
The Pistons turned into a band of brothers in the third quarter.
They were all on the same page and turned into a defensive rage. Every passing lane seemed to be covered and whenever a Pacer got into the paint they were met by men the size of Redwoods who swatted balls around like a summer volleyball game at the beach.
Pacers center Jermaine O'Neal tried to take the game over himself. But after six minutes of frustration in the third quarter all he had to show for his efforts was two missed shots, two turnovers, two personal fouls and a seat on the bench.
O'Neal is injured but to his credit he won't use his right shoulder injury as an excuse. He tried to play left handed against the Pistons. But when the Pistons are on their game you must be 100 percent mentally and physically ready to offset them.
The Pacers were not even close and fell under an avalanche of a 30-4 run.
"They are not a better team than us, " emotional forward Stephen Jackson fumed.
Oh yes they are. Despite two speed bumps we've always known the Pistons to be the better team. They simply had to show some respect to the Pacers who play with determination and desperation.
"I thought in the second and third quarters we defended as well as well as we have all year," Pistons Coach Larry Brown said.
Afterwards Pistons fans celebrated. They can see the end near.
However, the Pistons should still feel some shame that this series continues. They are clearly the superior team and teams that are serious about winning titles get rid of the bottom feeders quickly.
The Miami Heat is home resting. The Pistons are still flying, staying in tiny hotel rooms and getting ready for another game with the Pacers.
The good news is the Pacers appear to be emotionally spent. They might come out on fire Thursday, but how long can emotion last? It probably won't last long unless the Pistons once again come out flat and uninterested.
Jackson tried to light one last spark in his Pacers by challenging teammates to lay it all on the line Thursday.
"If anyone is not upset by this they should not even show up, " he said.
The Pacers will show up -- for a while. And then that final flicker of flames will dissolve and then it will be time to face the real Heat.

ARE THE TIGERS SLOWLY BREAKING DOWN?

The Tigers Dmitri Young said he will return tonight against Tampa Bay after twisting his ankle against the Los Angeles/Anaheim/Burbank/Beverly Hills/Laguna Beach/Hollywood/Pasadena Angels.
But will he?
It was the same game that catcher Pudge Rodriguez got hit on the toe with a foul ball. Reliever Troy Percival is on the injured list and the Tigers have yet to get a hit out of big time free agent signee Magglio Ordonez.
And where oh where is our old buddy Bobby Higginson?
The Tigers continue to hover around .500, but it appears as if injuries are beginning to build up. This is a team where everything must go perfectly if they are to make a run at the Central Division title.
The Tigers need another big time starter and more reliability in the bull pen to play consistently with the big boys.
Injuries do not help and my fear is they will slowly build up and finally break down the Tigers who have little margin for error.
It is just something to keep an eye on while you enjoy this Pistons run to the title.

WHEN DOES IT BECOME PENA TIME?
I ran into Tiger first baseman Carlos Pena at Star Lincoln Mercury Monday. He was looking for a car and we have to get a new family buggy also so I have been looking around the past few days for a nice deal.
We spoke briefly and he sent a message after I hit the lot "have him write good things about me."
He was just joking but Pena is struggling big time. I don't hoot on the guy because I root for the guy. Pena is one of the good guys in sports and it would be great to see him turn into a consistent hitter and drop that always gruesome "potential" label.

TIME TO END THE SHOW
The Pistons need to win the next two games to get to the Eastern Conference Finals against the resting Miami Heat. The problem is they probably almost assured themselves a first-game loss in Miami by being extended by the Indiana Pacers. The Heat needed rest in the worst way.
Center Shaquille O'Neal labored with leg injuries against the Washington Wizards and the Heat smartly sat him down. He needs rest more than playing time. His battle though will be with rust.
Can the Pistons take advantage of it?
We shall see if and when they get past the Pacers.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

RASHEED KEEPS HIS PROMISE; TEAMMATES BACK HIM UP

Rasheed Wallace believes in his teammates.
He does not make guarantees because he is arrogant or disrespectful. He makes them because he knows the guys he plays with better than the rest of us.
He knows his teammates play best when they are doubted and in trouble. They are like caged animals when someone is about to shut the door on them.
For the second year in a row a Guaransheed came true. The Pistons made Wallace a prophet again by pounding Indiana 89-76 Sunday at Conseco Field house to even this best of seven series 2-2.
It was a must-win obviously. But more important it was a must perform game. What I mean by that is the Pistons had to give maximum effort to beat the Pacers. It is something they forgot the last two games. They tried to do just enough to win, but the Pacers are too mentally tough to go down without a fight.
"It's just guys responding, " Rasheed Wallace said. "It is just guys going out and playing. I am the megaphone on the team. I say what other people feel. "
Privately the Pistons guarantee victory in every game. They always believe they will win when they hit the court. But Wallace is not afraid to sound off when he sees fit.
Last year he played terribly after saying the Pistons would beat the Pacers in Game 2. This year he had a nice 17-point, 12-rebound and 5-block effort. I've always said I am more interested in Wallace guaranteeing he will play well. And he did.
"He will be the first one to tell you his team backed him up, " Pistons Coach Larry Brown. "The team cares so much about him they wanted to make sure everything worked out favorably."
Sometimes the Pistons need to be awaken. They came out flat again but were in command after a 19-1 run. You saw the swagger from then on and although the Pacers got within six points they were never a factor in this game.
The Pistons returned to what got them here. They defended and worked the ball around. They were physical and fundamentally sound.
One critical adjustment was putting more pressure on Pacers guard Jamaal Tinsley. They did not put more defensive pressure on him. They placed more pressure on him by forcing him to play defense against Billups. Billups took him to the hole, posted him up and finished with 29 points and six assists.
Tinsley lost his composure and finished with seven turnovers and one assist.
"He is tough and we will continue to battle," Billups said.
When the Pacers cut the lead to six points in the third quarter Billups took over. He not only became Mr. Big Shot but he was also Mr. Big Pass and Mr. Big Hustle.
"It was a tough little stretch. We knew they would make a little run, "Billups said. "I wanted to be aggressive."
Tinsley became worn and tired and he was unable to penetrate the Pistons defense as much as he did the last two games. The Pistons needed Billups even more because Rip Hamilton is struggling because of injury and his lift is not what it was against the Philadelphia 76ers.
The dangerous thing about the Pistons is when one part breaks down, another usually steps up.
"I know the character of this team," Rasheed Wallace said. "It is answering the bell. We could not afford to go down 3-1 to this team. So we had to come out and answer the bell. "
The Pacers lost their composure took bad shots. We are also seeing the systematic breakdown of Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal. He scored just 10 points, but he had enough open looks to score 25. If he were healthy it is exactly what he would have done.
The Pistons got another break in that Reggie Miller (seven points) bricked a bunch of open shots. The Pacers also did not share the ball well enough. They lost the assist battle 22-14 and no team can win a playoff game with that low assist total.
The good news is this becomes a best of three series and the Pistons are back in command.
The bad news is the Miami Heat swept the Washington Wizards and Shaquille O'Neal is resting and getting himself ready for the Eastern Conference Finals.
So if the Pistons win this series they will be behind the eight ball again -- right where they like to be.

TERRY FOSTER'S LIST OF HIGH FIVES

Here is something I used to do way back in the day with the newspaper. It was popular with the people, not with the editors. It is Terry Foster's list of high fives. It is a concept former Free Press columnist Mike Downey let me steal. I mean borrow.


Five things in Detroit sports you can guarantee every year.
1. The Pistons will get in trouble with the Indiana Pacers during the playoffs and Rasheed Wallace guarantees a victory.
2. Lions fans call for the head of their starting quarterback.
3. The Tigers journey through another losing season.
4. Some unknown goalie becomes a world beater against the Red Wings in the playoffs.
5. Someone swears Barry Sanders is returning to the Lions to play football.

Five Most Popular Current Athletes in Detroit (Red Wings don't count. They are not playing)
1. Ben Wallace (Pistons) People love the fro, the braids and his work ethic. He is the heart and soul of the Pistons.
2. Pudge Rodriguez (Tigers) He is trying to work out of a batting slump, but he helped revive baseball in Detroit.
3. Jeff Garcia (Lions) The Lions backup quarterback always makes this list -- until he actually plays.
4. Tayshaun Prince (Pistons) He is the skinny guy with the phat game that gets better every year.
5. Joey Harrington (Lions) The Lions starting quarterback always makes this list -- including least popular athlete also.

Five reasons why the new Joe Louis Arena should be located in Corktown
1. It would be a big boom for the businesses that used to thrive on Tigers game days.
2. Do we really need to see a shell of a stadium fall apart before our eyes?
3. Nemo's cheeseburgers, fries and a beer. What a great way to begin or end a Red Wings night at the arena.
4. Hopefully they will be smart enough to build a new arena. And of course we in the media are hoping they remember to build a press box this time.
5. A new JLA means a new Cobo Center where the city can continue to attract large conventions.

Five people who could coach the Pistons next season?
1. Flip Saunders: The former Timberwolves coach is a solid guy and could get players' attention for a few years. Odds: 5-1
2. Maurice Cheeks: There were problems in Portland. But coaching the Jailblazers is like coaching a prison team. No one could succeed. Odds: 9-1.
3. Brendan Malone: Why not? He has coached every other NBA team. It is only a matter of time before he coaches the Pistons for a month or two. Odds: 20-1.
4. Bill Laimbeer: You never know. What if the Shock win the WNBA title again and everybody else says no to the Pistons? Odds: 35-1.
5. Larry Brown: The guy made a decision not to return well before his current health problems came out. But he can always change his mind if he finds a miracle cure. Odds: 50-1.

Five more guarantees in Detroit that Rasheed forgot
1. Michigan State will lose five or six football games every season.
2. Michigan will lose two football games everyone will swear they should have won.
3. The Lions will miss the playoffs.
4. Some television crew will do a bar story where hundreds of screaming fans act fools and blabber their team will win even if they are down 50 with two minutes to go.
5. The big names for the Red Wings will never score enough points to satisfy fans in the playoffs.

Five reasons Matt Millen and Steve Mariucci will return in 2006 even if the Lions lose in 2005.
1. They work for the Ford family, which has the longest rope in sports history.
2. They can always blame youth for Lion mistakes.
3. They can always blame injuries, like every other NFL team does.
4. They can always blame Joey Harrington even if receivers drop passes.
5. They can continue to blame the untimely retirement of Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders.

Five reasons the Pistons are in trouble against the Pacers
1. They did not respect their opponent.
2. Rasheed Wallace is running his mouth better than running the floor.
3. Right when the Pacers were about to cry uncle in Game 2, the Pistons let up off the throttle.
4. The NBA wants to see this Reggie Miller ride go as long as possible.
5. Any time you allow Jeff Foster to become a world beater you are not playing hard enough.

Five things I wish could happen before Super Bowl XL hits town.
1. Permanent casinos with hotels. That would add some spice to the place.
2. A total revamping of Woodward. It used to be the most important street in Detroit -- not a series of abandoned buildings and empty lots.
3. The Book Cadillac Hotel returns: Back in the day it is where all professional athletes used to stay when playing in Detroit.
4. A return of the Lindell A.C.: What is Detroit without its most famous sports bar?
5. 70 degree weather in February

Five words to leave you with
I need a raise NOW!!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

IF YOU CANNOT GET ON

Please email me at Fosternews@aol.com if you cannot get on the blog. Sometimes we have too many hits and it shuts it down. I think I am going to have to upgrade to a web sight because of the popularity of the blog. But I have to find a way and a means to do it. I will keep you all posted.

THE PISTONS DESERVE THIS SCARE

This is why you respect your opponent.
This is why when you have your opposition dazed, confused, scratching their heads, wondering where the hell they are, you bury the hatchet.
The Pistons dropped Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal to Indiana 79-74 Friday night at Conseco Fieldhouse to fall behind 2-1 in this series.
And yes Reggie Miller pushed off. And yes there were questionable calls and questionable plays down the stretch. But none of that would be of any concern to any of us if the Pistons has taken care of business in Game 2 and won a game they were in command of.
The Pistons took on the mentality of most of our community. They did not respect the Pacers and now it is coming back to haunt them. They are in trouble now, moaning about Miller creating space against Hunter to hit the game-clinching shot.
Did he create space illegally?
Yeah.
However, the Pistons had an opportunity to create space in a 2-0 lead Wednesday night but they instead turned into Space Cadets. They did not respect their opponent after rushing to a 15-point lead.
They were already thinking about sweeping the series and enjoying a few days off.
What they don't understand is Indiana is not the greatest team in the world. However, the Pacers might be Team Grit. It is what the Pistons used to be. Now they are trying to be team Glitz and that does not work when you lack a super star player.
Rasheed Wallace once again guaranteed a Pistons victory Sunday at Conseco, saying the series will return to Auburn Hills tied 2-2. That is fine if he wants to do that. He did it before Game 2 last season and turned prophet.
However, here is the only guaranteed Rasheed should make. How about guaranteeing that he will play hard. How about guaranteeing he will get to the foul line, which he doesn't. However, about guaranteeing he will play with more fire and anger and desire?
That would be nice.
Overall, the Pistons played with fire Friday. They just played stupid basketball at times and had to fight and scratch and claw just to put them in a position to win. The problem with that is when a game becomes a coin flip down the stretch you just never know if it is going to be heads or tails.
Some officials would have called Miller for the push off.
Some would not.
That's the coin flip the Pistons lost.
My point is don't let games turn into coin flips.
Smack the Pacers upside the head and send them home early like you are supposed to.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

PISTONS LOSE FOCUS, FRIED BY FOSTER

AUBURN HILLS -- The Pistons were up 10 points at half time. And I walked out of the arena towards the press area thinking they were in trouble.
While most saw prosperity, I saw a team that had stopped playing basketball. They'd lost their fire and desire. The scoreboard favored them but it was a lie.
The moral of the Pistons 92-83 loss to the Indiana Pacers is you create demons when you stop playing. After jumping to a 15-point lead the Pistons thought they could toy with the Pacers. It was a huge mistake because suddenly they created a monster named Jeff Foster.
Foster usually does not hurt people. He is a scrappy reserve who only gets opportunities to shine when Jermaine O'Neal and Dale Davis get into early foul trouble. The Pacers rarely call plays for him.
He knows he must get most of his offense by studying where teammates missed shots tend to land. And he makes sure he is in the vicinity when bricks are being laid. All night he grabbed long rebounds and short shots. He played a Ben Wallace type game and finished off the Pistons with 14 points, 20 rebounds and two blocked shots.
"I was just doing the same things I have been doing for five years, " Foster said. "I am trying to get as many rebounds as I can. If I get a chance to rebound a ball, make a lay up or a dunk I do whatever I can. "
The Pistons sometimes fall into traps. They read how great they are and begin to believe it. They lose their hunger and believe they simply need to show up to cut opponents down. The Pistons must realize they are no longer a great team unless they play with the mentality of warriors.
"Sometimes it is not a good idea to jump to a big lead," Pistons Center Ben Wallace said. "Guys tend to relax. "
When the Pistons get cute and lazy any team can cut them down to size.
It is exactly what the Pacers did. They watched the Pistons become more consumed with the referees than the Pacers and hit them with a Foster punch.
Normally, a team is in control of a series when they steal the first road game. But I do not feel the Pacers are in charge of this series. The Pistons are a good road team and Indiana struggles at home.
They lost at Conseco twice to Boston. If the Celtics can win there, the Pistons should also.
I picked the Pistons to win this series in six even though they should win in five because I feared they would lose interest at some point.
They did lose focus. Now they must gain respect for the Pacer, a team which keeps picking itself off the floor.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

HOW WOULD YOU RANK THE PISTONS STARTING FIVE?

Quick hits

** I must give credit to Pat "The Book" Caputo who brought up an interesting topic on radio the other day. We all know the Pistons have the best starting five in basketball.
How would you rank the players in importance from one to five?
I've gone over this a number of times and am never satisfied with the list because no one should be ranked fifth. But here goes any way.
Here is my list.
1. Ben Wallace: He is not a great offensive player, but the Pistons give up about 10 points a game more when he is not intimidating opposing shooters.
2. Chauncey Billups: I love point guards and believe they are the most important players on the floor unless of course you have Shaq at center. He is also a huge leader on this team.
3. Rip Hamilton: He is the Pistons most consistent scorer and this guy runs and runs and runs. There is now slow down in him.
4. Tayshaun Prince: See I am hating this list already. Here is a guy many consider the MVP of this team. I talked about him being the most important player on this team at times and I have him fourth on the list. The guy is still emerging and is definitely the most improved player on this list.
5. Rasheed Wallace: How important is this guy? He is only the reason why the Pistons are wearing the crown and not chasing the crown. The Pistons became instant contenders when he was traded here from Atlanta. He hits big shots but too often gives way to teammates.

** One bad thing about the November 19 brawl is Piston fans don't realize what a good guy Pacers center Jermaine O'Neal is. They just remember him punching fans and being out of control. This guy is polished, polite and once the tarnish of this wears off will be one of the great ambassadors of the game.

** I know a number of you do not like Bobby Higginson. However, it is sad to see what he has become. When was the last time he got a hit? Higgy is a shell of what he used to be. He needs a change of scenery. I don't know if that would revive his career. I just know he is more than done here.

** It is too bad a Miami columnist had to inject race into the NBA Most Valuable Player voting. It was tough deciding whether Shaquille O'Neal who is black or white Canadian Steve Nash should be MVP. I know a number of voters who went right down to the wire before deciding.
It was the fourth closest MVP voting in history.
Nash won because he deserved it, not because he is white.
Shaq made Miami matter again. That is how powerful he is.
Although Phoenix is talented Nash does lead a team that won just 29 games last season. Yes, there were injuries last season but this is the engine that makes it run. And did you notice how poorly the Suns played this season without him?
If voters were so color conscious then how come the last white guy to win the award (Larry Bird) did it in the 1980s?

** What should they do with the old Tiger Stadium sight? I spoke to some Corktown businessmen and they believe the city of Detroit should build the new Joe Louis Arena there. It sounds like an excellent idea. At some point they must expand Cobo Center, creating a need for a new arena.
Why not reward the old neighborhood that lost the Tigers when Comerica Park was built? There is speculation the new arena will eventually go behind the Fox Theater. I like the Corktown plan better.

** Next time you are downtown treat yourself and your friends at Harry's. It is a good and friendly place. And you will be surprised how good the food is.


** I am digging the publicity I have been getting on the Drew and Mike Show on WRIF. It is only the most listened morning show in Detroit. If they ever need a wacky sports reporter I am their guy.

** Maybe I should strike that last comment. Mike will read it and swear I am trying to leave him.


** The city's timing is always terrible. I see the courts gave the go ahead to build permanent casinos with hotels. Just in time to miss the Super Bowl.


** OK folks. Enjoy tonight's game.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

RUN N RIP HAMILTON ZIPS PAST MILLER

AUBURN HILLS -- Reggie Miller runs on old and tired legs.
They've logged hundreds of miles in places like Madison Square Garden, old Chicago Stadium and the Pontiac Silverdome. He has used them to chase. He has used them to run defenders off screens. And he has used those old bony legs to trip people while he is shooting three-point baskets.
These legs have carried him to All Star games, the all-time scoring list and playoff runs both long and short.
But now he is asking these legs to do the impossible just days before retirement.
He is asking these legs to keep up with Run N Rip Hamilton, the modern day Reggie Miller.
Run N Rip ran Reggie ragged by dropping a 28-point licking on the old man. The Pistons enjoyed fresh legs in their 96-71 victory over the Pacers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinals game at The Palace. The Pacers came in with tired legs, having ousted Boston just 48 hours before in the opening-round playoffs.
You knew Game 1 would be the game where the Pistons enjoyed the jump and the Pacers would play like bumps.
So now the Pacers must do two things to make this a series. Well, actually they do have a third option. They must hope the Pistons go away, but that is not likely to happen considering the Pistons are hell bent on winning a second straight NBA title.
1. The Pacers must slow Run N Rip, who curls off picks with the speed of the Tasmanian Devil. He ran Miller ragged in the Eastern Conference Finals a year ago. And he is doing it again. But this is what Run N Rip does. He runs and runs and runs some more.
And while he is running, he is shooting and scoring and making life miserable even for an old man he calls a hero and mentor.
Run N Rip is relentless. They call him Pretty Boy in the dressing room. But inside the smooth dressing player is a stone cold killer. He throws daggers all game long.
2. The Pacers must find a way to slow Ben Wallace. While Hamilton hurt the Pacers with his legs, Big Ben just shoved them aside like they were 99-pound weaklings. He recorded 21 points, 15 rebounds and embarrassed the Pacers. The guy can be pretty amazing sometimes.
Monday was one of those evenings. Wallace and his fresh legs and billowing fro was very active inside. He came out of no where to snag rebounds and block shots.
The Pacers said they must stop these two to get back in the series. But it is not that simple. Did you notice Chauncey Billups barely shot the ball? Did you notice Tayshaun Prince had a mediocre game and that Rasheed Wallace just stuck around and enjoyed the ride up close?
If the Pacers do find a way to make Run N Rip walk and force Air Ben to the ground there are at least three other guys willing to step their games up.
That is why the Pistons will win this series. They got too much jump in them. The Pacers are worn, beaten, battered, tattered and at least one of them is ready for the soap factory.
Miller must summons those legs to help him. But at this stage of his career he is giving way to the young man. He cannot keep up. But that is no shame.
Few can hang with Run N Rip.

Monday, May 09, 2005

THE ODDS OF A STRANGE SERIES

The Pistons-Pacers series should be filled with spills, chills and thrills. And who knows. Maybe even a riot will break out.
The Las Vegas odds are in as what we can expect.

Another Brawl breaks out: odds: 200,000-1 This is not to say you won't have an occasional spilled beer or push or shove. But there is one key missing ingredient from Novemeber 19. Ron Artest won't play. We can blame the fans, the Palace security and Ben Wallace for the last brawl but bottom line is the beer cup was tossed at the one guy in the NBA who is unstable enough to go attack a fan after what happened.

The Pacers win this series: Odds: 15-1 The Pacers have a punchers chance only because this is a rivalry. Let's make comparisons to Michigan and Michigan State football. The Wolverines are the superior program, but the Spartans scare them now and then.

Rasheed Wallace gets a technical: Odds: 2-5 We all know the big fella' will be revved up and ready to go. He can't wait to get at his buddy Jermaine O'Neal and send the young man packing. Wallace is really into this playoffs and I expect big and sometimes emotional things from him.

Ben Wallace shoves a Pacer: Odds: 3-1 Someone is going to get under Big Ben's skin at some point. His loves to protect his turf and show the world he is the biggest and baddest dude in the Eastern Conference. My guess is he will shove Jeff Foster.

over/under of the media replaying the brawl: 90,211: Television needs action to lure viewers in. ESPN will show it along with Fox and all the rest. I do know of some television producers begging their bosses not to replay it. My guess is they will lose their plea.

Reggie Miller gets exposed for being old: 3-1: Miller has had a terrific final season and he has shown flashes of his old self in the playoffs. But we saw signs of Miller Time coming to Earth in the Boston series. The Pistons love to break down players and expose them. My guess is he will fade as the series continues.

Someone throws a cup and it lands: Odds: 15-1: You know someone will have a few too many beers and will try. Let's pray for terrible aim. More importantly lets pray no one even tries. Haven't we seen enough on this series?

THE OVER/UNDER OF PISTONS FANS WHO MAKE A WEEKEND OF IT IN INDIANAPOLIS: 1,502: Fans walked up to the ticket window and purchased seats the evening before Eastern Conference Finals games at Conseco. That might not be possible this year because of all the hype surrounding the brawl. The place might actually be sold out. However, number of Pacer fans come downtown, sell their tickets and then watch games in one of the fun bars downtown. Come on down. Chances are you will get in. And even if you don't you can down suds with drunken Pacer fans. They can be fun.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

PISTONS-PACERS: WE ARE ALL ON TRIAL

Indiana Pacers center Jermaine O’Neal and the Pistons' Rasheed Wallace are close friends. They ate together twice during last year’s bitter Eastern Conference Finals and Wallace acted as a mentor when O'Neal cut his teeth in Portland.
Even after the biggest brawl in NBA history last November they remained phone buddies. During their last conversations they both wished for one more shot at each other on the court.
This is the series everybody wants on both sides of the Michigan-Indiana divide. The Pistons and Pacers square off in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Monday at The Palace and the first game can't get here fast enough.
Rasheed Wallace and O’Neal hoped for it. And let’s face facts. It is what we wanted to see also.
It is the series that had to happen.
If the Pistons are truly the best in the land it is only appropriate that they take the toughest road. This season is not complete without another shot at the Pacers even with all the media baggage it brings.
The Pacers earned the right to face the Pistons by beating lifeless Boston 97-70 in Game 7 of their opening round series Saturday night. I am happy to see the Pacers win because it spares us watching Paul Pierce wear that sock around his face.
"It is only right, " O’Neal said. "It is going to be a heck of a series. Personally, this is what I want. I want to see this team and I am sure Detroit wants to see us on the basketball part. We are beyond the extracurricular activities. The best team will win a seven game series. "
The media quickly tried to paint O'Neal as the guy who wanted this more than anyone. But Reggie Miller pointed a crooked finger at reporters and correctly said: "You know you guys want us to play Detroit."
Guilty as charged.
The Pistons and Pacers say they have moved on from Nov. 19. I am not sure that is the case, but I do know the rest of us have not.
We will see the replays of the Palace brawl another 40,609 this week. We in the media will not allow you to forget even if you want to.
We will watch because we do not know if we will see another 12-car pile up. We will watch because we are not sure if the next bump will spark the next punch. We will watch because we are not sure if one clown in a crowd of thousands will cause the circus to break out.
We will watch because we don’t know what will happen or when it will happen. These are bitter rivals and when teams care so much about winning then anything can happen.
"This has been a year of trial and tribulations, " O’Neal said. "Our goals have not changed from day one. Our goal is to win a championship no matter who we have out there. "
The Pacers do not have enough to win this series. But it is worth watching because we are all on trial. The two teams are on trial because any small brush fire can cause an inferno. So players will watch their every step.
The Detroit fans are on trial because they have acted irresponsibly this season. First there was the cup thrower, then the bomb calls. And we were put on notice again when a fan hit Philadelphia Sixers guard Allen Iverson in the back of the head with a quarter.
The Palace is on trial also. Although it is one of the greatest buildings in the world, some around the country wonder if it is a lawless establishment.
Of course Detroit is always on trial. That is nothing new.
The goal here should be to play tough and competitive basketball on the court and to view it with class in the stands.
I am not confident that can happen. But lets keep our fingers crossed.
We got what we all wanted. Let's do it up right.

THEY WILL BE MISSED

This has been a tough week for me.
Two of my guys died.
One guy you heard of. The other guy you may not have heard of.
Former Michigan Athletic Director Don Canham is known as a marketing genius. He is credited with making Michigan football games the place to be for more than 100,000 folks each weekend. But here is something you don't know about Canham.
He was one of my biggest boosters. I don't know why. But he often called, giving me tips on stories.
He always denied it but I believe Canham was responsible for one of the biggest breaks in my career.
I was the Michigan football writer at the Free Press when Bo Schembechler was on the downside of his football career. There were rumors he was going to become Michigan's Athletic Director. Out of the blue a Michigan booster began calling me. He walked me toward every step during the process and I was ahead of everybody in this breaking story.
I know Canham had this guy call me. He said it is not true.
But thanks any way big fella".
Walter Grable is a guy you may not have heard about. A number of us mentored Grable because he was a young man from inner city Detroit who needed a break. He worked as a clerk at the Free Press and although I left the paper many years ago a few folks at the paper and I kept in touch to try to help Walter.
He got a job at the Indianapolis Star, but he always ran into trouble there. It was not a good fit and after much anguish he finally landed a job as an assistant sports editor at a small paper in North Carolina. He had a daughter there and wanted to be close to her.
This week he collapsed and died while playing pick up basketball. He was 38. That is way too soon to leave this sweet mother Earth.
And it was too soon for this world to see Walter go. He was not perfect, but he had a sweet heart and tried to help kids.
The only good thing is Walter died doing what he loved. He was a very good basketball player and one of my greatest post school accomplishments was leading a team of Snooze reporters past the Morning Friendly in the Gus Macker tournament.
I got hot and it was a source of pride that the Freep made a defensive switch and had Walter guard me. He was a better player. But I burned him any way.
Thanks for the game Walt. And thanks for the friendship Don.
Both of you guys will be missed.

Friday, May 06, 2005

THE ONE RUN, NO WIN, BLUES

Usually Tiger losses do not bother me. For the past decade I've mostly ignored this team because they were not competitive enough to fight back when teams hit first.
They were a low payroll team not worth my time.
This year is different. For the first time in this century there are expectations and so far the Tigers are not playing up to them.
The Tigers dipped to 3-8 in one-run games following Thursday's 2-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park. It is a disturbing trend considering they were 12-27 in one-run games last season. It is not a coincidence. It is a trend. And it is a trend that must stop.
Yes, it is early in the season. The Tigers are 12-15 and former manager Sparky Anderson always said to not make evaluations on teams until after 40 games. Under the Sparky rules we have 13 games to go.
Well, I am impatient. This is a trend that has been going on for 189 games and there are no signs it is going away.
I look at three people in why ugly trend has become the norm. One is a guy learning on the job. One is a guy rehabing on the job and the third is a guy who did not take the job.
This would not be happening if manager Alan Trammell were more experienced, if outfielder Magglio Ordonez were more healthy and if pitcher Carl Pavano had said yes to Michigan.
I am not up in arms yet. I am just concerned.
Trammell learned from Anderson. He is also learning on the job. My major problem with him is all the rest guys are getting when they should already be rested. These are young and healthy men and it is not like they are running up and down a basketball court or football field six days a week. He needs to ride his horses for a while and then give them rest now and then.
He is also trying to figure out the proper way to use his pitchers. But in his defense this three-headed closer monster of Kyle Farnsworth, Ugueth Urbina and Troy Percival is not working. They are about as consistent as the Michigan weather.
Oh and by the way did you see Urbina blew another one late on Thursday? These guys ride the roller coaster as often as old Tiger pitcher Joe Sparma. Sometimes he was great and sometimes he was hitting the back stop with his fast ball.
The ride was often exhilarating and sometimes frightening.
I already know many of your post will center on Trammell. I really want to know what you have to say about him. So let it rip gang. I will respond.
You have to believe a healthy Ordonez would be worth a win or two here and there because he was one of the deluxe hitters in the league before injuries and bad health sidelined him.
More importantly the Tigers need another stud starting pitcher. They tried to get it by signing Pavano. Although he is just OK with the New York Yankees (2-2, 4.24 earned run average)you must believe he'd be more relaxed here and pitching better.
Let's let this thing play out. The law of averages say you should win about half of your one-run games.
Let's see where they are at the All-Star break before we break into an all out panic.
But so far the trend is not trendy.