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Hokeamaniac
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<center><b>The Return to Greatness</center></b>


<b><i>Introduction</i></b>

My name is Jeremy and I have been a Pistons fan since I was born in 1984. I remember being 7 years old and cheering, cheering, cheering for my favorite team to win the NBA Championship. Since the days of the Bad Boys, Isiah, Joe, Dennis, Boodah, "Spider" Salley, The Microwave, and Mark Aguirre I have become a complete and utter die hard. With that said, it's been a rough last 10 years. Since Jordan's Bulls began their dominance the Pistons faded into oblivion. These mid to late 90's teams were led by Grant Hill. He was a player with unquestionable talent, but could never lead us out of the first round of the playoffs. Then the trade occurred. The trade that would completely change this Piston's franchise. Grant Hill was off to Orlando, but we managed a sign-and-trade. Now, let me tell you: at the time I was not a happy Piston fan. Grant had become one of my favorites, and I thought this was the beginning of many years of being in the cellar for my team. Little did I know, our shrewd President of Basketball Operations (Bad Boy himself, Joe Dumars), was able to get two cornerstones that would lead us back to the top. While Grant hobbled to two consecutive surgeries, Chucky Atkins became our starting point guard and Ben Wallace became the best defensive player in the NBA. The 2000-01 season was not a good one, but us Piston fans were excited for the 2001-02 season...

<b><i>The Return to Greatness</i></b>

2001-02, what a year! 50-32. Who would have ever thought it? A team led by Jerry Stackhouse (regarded by many as a selfish ball hog) would win the Central Division. The 'Blue Collar Bunch' captivated the city of Detroit into a frenzy. Never since the years of the Bad Boys did we have a team to be so excited about. Sure, there were the teams under Doug Collins that won up to 54 games, but these teams were considered soft. Detroiters are fans that love hard- working, tough teams. This is what the Pistons provided. 'Big' Ben Wallace became a player EVERYBODY in Detroit loved. Jerry stepped up his game to become more unselfish. Cliff Robinson provided that tough interior defense and vast years of experience. And, what can you say about Corliss Williamson. A guy that people wrote off as being a nothing. He provided unbelievable scoring punch off the bench. Something must have been going right for this team to play so well, and with this article I intend on exploring position-by-position why this team was what it was.

<b><i>Point Guard</i></b>

Starter: Chucky Atkins. Yes, he seemed inconsistent at times. Yes, he isn't the best play-maker on the team. Yes, he's not the biggest guy on the court. Yes, he was subject of trade rumors during mid-season (after he fell out of the rotation). Many players would have cracked. Chucky didn't. Chucky would step up when we needed him. He had the ability to hit the big shots. 3rd quarters became a Chucky Atkins trademark. He would score from anywhere on the court. His inconsistencies have led to his probable removal from the starting line-up, but us Piston fans can't forget that he was one of the main reasons why we finished the season as good as we did. Damon Jones is a guy that has bounced around the league since his arrival in the NBA. On his 6th team in as many years Jones provided the back-up play out of a point guard that we needed. His 6'3" size was a sharp contrast to the 5'11" size of Chucky. Somewhere, he will stick on a team because he is a nice asset coming off the bench.
<b>Pistons PG Grade: C+</b>

<b><i>Shooting Guard</i></b>

Starter: Jerry Stackhouse. Why were the Pistons so good? People automatically point to Ben Wallace. But this Piston fan will tell you, without the improved, unselfish play of Stack we would not have made the playoffs. Sacrificing his numbers for the team concept Stack matured and emerged as one of the top 5 shooting guards in the NBA. Playing half the season with injuries Jerry was still able to manage 21 points per game. The one glaring problem came in the playoffs. In his first real playoff experience as a leader Jerry struggled. Shooting 32% from the field and scoring 17 points per game will be something that needs to be improved on. Next year, Jerry will have one year under his belt: NBA watch out. Before the season began Joe Dumars traded Mateen Cleaves to the Sacramento Kings for Jon Barry and a first round draft choice. JB soon became a crowd favorite in Detroit. His wild and energetic plays went a long ways in pumping up the Palace crowds (which steadily rose in numbers as the season went on). One of the best 3-point shooters in the game, JB became a very important part of the Pistons, something he wasn't in Sac Town.
<b>Pistons SG Grade: A-</b>

<b><i>Small Forward</i></b>

Starter: Michael Curry. Wipe those smirks off your faces. What Michael Curry lacks in basketball talent, he makes up in natural court instincts and defense. Providing great leadership to the Pistons starting line-up was Curry's forte. His ability to shut down the opposing small forwards didn't hurt his cause either. Setting a defensive tone was something Coach Rick Carlisle preached and that's why Curry remained in the starting line-up. Backing him up was 6th-man of the year, Corliss Williamson. Williamson provided that scoring punch and interior scoring presence that our starting line-up sometimes lacked. Williamson would get the majority of minutes in the 4th quarter, and even became the go-to guy, not the aforementioned Stack. Throughout the season, many Piston fans wanted Corliss in the starting line-up. But, his most valuable position: coming off the bench and lighting it up. Too strong for a small forward to contain and too quick for a power forward to contain is the best way to describe Corliss. And, he didn't get the name "Big Nasty" for nothing...just ask Jermaine O'Neal.
<b>Pistons SF Grade: B+</b>

<b><i>Power Forward</i></b>

Starter: Ben Wallace. 'Big' Ben became just that. BIG. The heart and soul of the Pistons set the defensive tone with his extraordinary shot blocking and rebounding. Let's not forget this man is 6'9" (and that might be stretching it). Looking back on that infamous trade...I'd never take it back. Ben's importance to the team cannot be measured. He's a guy that's willing to do all the dirty work and absolutely excels at it. He's a franchise player that doesn't even score 10 points per game. In today's game of flashiness, glitz and glamour, that really is shocking. His popularity across the nation has grown to the point where he may make the All-Star team as a starter next year. It's always nice to see Big Ben get awarded on the offensive side with a monstrous dunk. Defensive Player of the Year in 2002 and probably many more in the years to come...
<b>Pistons PF Grade: A</b>

<b><i>Center</i></b>

Starter: Cliff Robinson. Quick, tell me the two players that Joe Dumars gave up to land Cliffy. Jud Buechler and John Wallace. This is a huge reason why the Pistons fans were so excited before the season began. Cliff is a player that is well-known in the basketball world and is a consummate pro. Although, his play was very inconsistent throughout the year, he provided the veteran leadership that the Pistons desperately needed. His defense is nothing to be frowned up. He provided this to great lengths and was one of the reasons why our defense was as good as it was. Backing him up was 29-year old rookie Zeljko Rebraca. His extensive professional play in Europe showed in the season. He was not a prototypical rookie. Sure, he got into foul trouble on occasion but he's a good scorer and shot-blocker. I feel he's good enough to start for the Pistons at the center position in the upcoming year.
<b>Pistons C Grade: B+</b>

<b><i>In conclusion</b></i>

This Piston's team will go down in the record books. Not because of their regular season accolades or their raw talent. Not because of the way they played in the playoffs. This team will go down in the Detroit Piston record books as one of the hardest working Pistons teams ever. Their dedication and desire to win was a privilege to watch. Thank-you Pistons for a wonderful year that compelled us fans. Here's to another great season in 2002-03. It's your year. You will have targets on your backs throughout the season, but keep your heads high, and go into those playoffs. This year make the outcome different, let's kick some Celtic butt!




Thanks for reading,
Jeremy (aka jvanbusk)
 

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A!
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Originally posted by jvanbusk


Thanks KC, means alot! I'm really kind of shocked you were the first one to reply, lol :grinning:
Why is that? LOL. :D
 

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Absolutely a great article! I mean that.
 

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Ahhh.... It sucked

J/K It was a good read

I am suprised you left off the bench coaching and mahagement in your grades tho. Those are VERY important.
 

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Hokeamaniac
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Discussion Starter #10
Re: Ahhh.... It sucked

Originally posted by MadFace
J/K It was a good read

I am suprised you left off the bench coaching and mahagement in your grades tho. Those are VERY important.
Thanks, I was getting a little tired. I wanted to do coaching for sure, because Carlisle deserves all the recognition in the world, but just wasnt up for it. Maybe in my next one I can discuss coaching and management go a little more in depth with the roster moves and whatnot. Alright, you've got my head spinning some ideas....lol
 

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Good job! :)
 
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