Jalen Rose gathered with basketball fans at a bar for Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference finals between the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers. It was also draft lottery night, with retired small forward Rose taking on the role of ESPN analyst.
Rose decided that he would win the lottery and qualify for the first general selection for the first time since the Detroit Pistons applied for the 1985 draft, and would be an encouraging way to re-enter basketball.
Rose never played for the Pistons in his 13-year NBA career, but is from Detroit and is a lifelong Pistons fan. He announced that if the draft lottery prophecy comes true, he will buy drinks for the dozens of fans at the bar.
Rose was confused as NBA assistant commissioner Mark Tatum announced the reverse order of the draft from 14th and Detroit remained on the board. He thought of Jimmy Walker, who gave him half the genes for an NBA career and Detroit’s first overall pick more than 50 years ago. He thought of his mother, Jeanne Rose, who had nurtured and facilitated these dreams with Walker, who had died of cancer four months earlier.
“And in that moment, it struck me that my mom and my biological dad were going to break through the gates of heaven and win us the #1 pick,” Rose said during a phone interview.
The Pistons entered the lottery, which drew with the Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic for the best chance (14 percent) To make choice #1. Rose’s fun-loving friends soon turned into Pistons fans when Ben Wallace, the organization’s lottery rep and last championship team loyalist, demanded the best pick.
“In many ways, having #1 is symbolic, especially for the NBA,” Rose said. “We haven’t had our #1 pick since Big Dobber Bob Lanier in the early ’70s. We haven’t had a #1 overall player since my biological dad, Jimmy Walker, in 1967. And the reason it’s so symbolic is because when you make that choice, it has to be a franchise-changing player, a generation-changing player. actor. And not all #1 drafts are created equal. There is a unanimous choice in that.”
Rose’s potential pick for the Pistons on Thursday is Cade Cunningham of Oklahoma State, a versatile quarterback and scorer. Pistons Coach Dwane Casey said he’s excited to add Cunningham or any of his biggest hopes: the G league jalen green, Gonzaga jalen suggs or Southern California Evan Mobley.
The addition of a player with Cunningham’s talent would give Detroit a jumping start after the Pistons lagged behind for years as a mid-Eastern Conference playoff team before bottoming out and restructuring under Casey and General Manager Troy Weaver.
Wallace, a solid rebounder and defender. will soon be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, represented the team in the lottery.
The Pistons have long since left the Bad Boys era of the 1980s, which featured Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, and Bill Laimbeer, and joined Wallace’s unified, underdog team that ousted Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal’s Los Angeles in the early 2000s. they don’t look alike. Lakers for the championship in 2004.
This recent championship team of Wallace, Richard Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince played harmoniously in an era before superstars regularly teamed up via free agency. They made it to the Eastern Conference finals for six seasons in a row as a roadblock to young Cleveland’s LeBron James, reminded of how the Bad Boys denied rising Michael Jordan in Chicago.
These championship teams represented Detroit’s bold work ethic, even though the 2004 team didn’t play within the city limits.
“I will always be a Pistons fan,” Wallace told The New York Times. “I’ll always be a Detroit fan, I’ll be a Michigan fan, so it’s exciting for me because you always want to see the organization do well.”
Detroit has only made the playoffs twice since 2009, and both have been swept in the first round. After the championship core split and failed long contracts with players like Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, the franchise has suffered from a failed restructuring effort. In 2012, Detroit drafted center Andre Drummond at a time when the organization went from running deep in the playoffs to missing the end of the season for three years. A free agent after debuting for the Lakers this summer, Drummond played for more than seven seasons with Detroit and rose to second on the Pistons’ career rebounding list and fifth on the ballplay list, and traded him to the Cleveland Cavaliers in February 2020. .
From 2008-9 to 2014-15, the Pistons went through five coaches: Michael Curry, John Kuester, Lawrence Frank, Maurice Cheeks and Stan Van Gundy. (John Loyer was interim coach after Cheeks during the 2013-14 season.)
They made a splash in January 2018 by trading with the Los Angeles Clippers for former All-Star Blake Griffin, but injuries to Griffin and a weak squad around him limited the impact of the move.
Weaver joined the organization ahead of the 2020-21 season and launched a dizzying overhaul.
“People asked me if I was surprised that Troy changed the roster the way he did. “I was surprised at how fast he did that,” said Tom Gores, owner of the Pistons since 2011. “I’m not surprised that he did it because it evaluates talent and also the value in a player. ”
Weaver’s moves include the drafting of Killian Hayes; get Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey on draft day deals; signing Jerami Grant from Denver at the free agency; Derrick Rose swap; and buys Griffin.
“I’ve said before that it doesn’t matter where you hit – you have to hit the ball and we just hit the front,” Weaver said of his approach to this draft.
The Pistons finished the season as the worst 20-52 in the Eastern Conference, but Casey said he’s seen enough to rebound from his young core.
“We’re going to itch and claw, but ultimately, our goal is to be a championship show, to go on championship laps,” said Casey, who won the 2018 Coach of the Year Award with Toronto and entered the competition. His fourth season with Detroit. “We will take steps and we will not skip the steps of the process to get there.”
As much as representing a necessary cog in the Pistons’ rebuilding – or restoration, as Weaver called the process – it also symbolizes a revival for the city of Detroit.
The Pistons moved from Cobo Arena in downtown Detroit to the Pontiac Silverdome in 1978. They spent 10 years there before heading to Auburn Hills Palace, about 30 miles north of Detroit. Auburn Hills Palace is perhaps best known as the location of the Malice at the Palace fight between Pistons and Indiana Pacers players in 2004, but the team also won their last championship here.
The move to Auburn Hills represented, as Rose describes, a “pain point” that has plagued Detroiters and Pistons fans for nearly 40 years. The franchise had fled to the suburbs with most of the city’s population and financial backing.
“It was heartbreaking,” said Mike Duggan, who has been Detroit’s mayor since 2014. “The Pistons have never been great. And they left town while they were recovering, and it’s been a long journey to Auburn Hills for Detroiters. And if you live on the west side, in the Western suburbs, it was even a long way, but this is a basketball city. And we always felt that the Detroit Pistons belonged to Detroit.”
The Pistons remained in Auburn Hills until Gores announced the Pistons’ defeat. moving back to the city Sharing Little Caesars Arena with the NHL’s Red Wings for the 2017-18 season.
The organization has reintegrated itself into society since its return. The Pistons moved their headquarters and training facility to Detroit, built basketball courts in parks, helped develop the surrounding neighborhood, and ignited community discussions.
Gores, though. criticized due to the private equity firm’s acquisition of Securus Technologies, a company that sets expensive prices for phone calls made by inmates. He said he wanted to reform the industry.
“The Pistons have become a big part of the Detroit community and it’s a very loyal city,” Duggan said. “The city is very emotionally attached to their comeback and wants to see the team win. So it’s going to take the excitement for the Pistons to a whole different level.”
That level would be Thursday’s hope that Magic Johnson would return a player who could elevate the franchise, as he once did for the Lakers, as Allen Iverson did for the Philadelphia 76ers and Tim Duncan did for the San Antonio Spurs.
Of course, they were all #1 picks that quickly breathed new life into their franchises.
“There’s nothing against any of our companies, but if we can take a championship and get that stadium rocking and excited, that means the worlds, to me the most,” Gores said. “I don’t know—except if you want your kids to thrive—that’s how important it is.”