Culminating a year-long process, the Detroit Pistons unveiled its all-time team last night before the game against New York. For those of you who watched the ceremony, I hope you enjoyed seeing the old players come back. It was also great to see each player greet owner Bill Davidson on his way out. I would have loved to have been there to see all the greats side by side. In fact, everyone who wasn't deceased or still playing/coaching around the league made it to the event. Except one person, of course --- Dennis Rodman. It's sad that even with what his life has become, he can't make it back to Detroit for one night with his former teammates.
In an effort to honor as many people as possible, the Pistons split up the team by era into three groups: The Classic Era, The Bad Boy Era, and The Current Era.
By no means do I want to criticize this process. I love that Detroit honored its all-time greats and helped younger fans to appreciate what these men meant to the organization. But, I have to take issue with some of these selections. The team consists of about 32 players and it should really be around 20. It seems that the committee basically selected any player who played decent minutes for a title team. And if you have a connection to the city of Detroit or are still in the media, that helps too. Really, is John Salley deserving of being on any all-time team? Yea, he's funny and a good interview, but he played six seasons in Detroit and never averaged more than 9.5 points or 6.1 rebounds in a season.
Same with Rick Mahorn. Another funny guy who is still involved with the team, so perhaps his case was helped there. But, he played just four seasons in Detroit, (not counting his two comeback years in 96-98) and basically put up 8 and 8. If you force me, I can sort of understand those two picks because they were solid bench players who still have viable personalities in today's media.
But, James Edwards, really?? The Detroit sports media were gushing over him in the pre-game roundtable. I think it was Chris McCoskey who said Edwards holds the all-time record for first quarter points. It may be hyperbole, but it's still a dumb comment. You can't just glorify these players years after they retire because they played a nice role on a title team. Edwards was, for his size, one of the worst rebounders in the league. He played 3.5 years in Detroit and never grabbed more than 4.2 rpg. I know he played with one of the best rebounders in NBA history, but Salley, Mahorn, and Laimbeer all found time to grab a few caroms. Not Buddha. If this committee thinks Edwards is an all-time team member, than so is Cliff Robinson.
Let's compare these two players:
Player A- 5 years, averaged over 17 ppg three times, never more than 4 apg or 3 rpg.
Player B- 6.5 years, averaged over 17 ppg three times, never more than 3 apg or 4 rpg.
It seems the players are fairly similar. Both were shooting guards who played in the late 1960s. Both played on the 1968 playoff team, though Player B played better. But Player A made the all-time team. My guess as to why? Player A is Jimmy Walker, Player B is Eddie Miles. Walker lived in Detroit after his career, fathering Jalen Rose. Miles didn't have a famous son. Anyone else have a better reason, I'm all ears.
They also named an all-time starting five. Isiah Thomas at PG, Dave Bing at the 2, Grant Hill at SF, Rodman at the 4, and Bob Lanier at center. I actually find it hard to argue with that starting five.
The only one who may not fit perfectly is Rodman. He wasn't a scorer by any means. But, his rebounding prowess was almost unbelievable. In fact, only Ben Wallace in 2002 has anyone grabbed over 15 per game in a season. If you want to argue with his lack of scoring, good luck finding anyone else to take his place. There's Sheed or Mahorn and Salley. When you consider that, Rodman is easily the best choice.
A couple other notes from the ceremony: Ben Wallace was booed it sounded like. That I don't understand one bit. Wallace basically turned around the team's reputation and became the face of the Pistons for six years. When he left, it was a business decision by Joe Dumars (and a smart one at that). Why turn your back on the man who brought a title to this town and won 3 Defensive Player of the Year awards? Even if he has played for our two biggest rivals this season, his impact has dramatically waned. There's no need for the booing; he should be cheered for doing what no one else could in the 1990s.
Finally, I know Hill couldn't make it, but I was shocked that he wasn't cheered more when his name was announced. The sports media mentioned it in the pregame, and I fully agree. Hill just wasn't recognized as he should have been during his time here. People seem to forget, but Hill was like Scottie Pippen and LeBron James. He averaged about 21 ppg, 8 rpg, and 7 apg, making the All-Star team all six seasons. Hill played point guard, he played scorer, he played rebounder, whatever the team needed, Hill did it. Maybe it was the team's inability to escape the first round (they lost 4 times in 4 tries). Maybe it was boring nature of his teammates and the lack of an identity during the mid-90s. Whatever it was, Hill doesn't deserve the negativity. I'm glad he was named to the starting five and I hope he can be recognized rightfully.