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3 reasons Everybody Hates the Detroit Pistons

  ("Everybody Hates the Pistons")
The Detroit Pistons.

As a Cleveland Cavaliers' fan, it's hard not to immediately have that feeling of utter and total disgust when rolling that basketball name off your tongue, even though it's been years since the Bad Boys strolled through the city. It's been seven years since the team has had a winning record, before the current team finished with a 44-38 season, and six seasons since they made the playoffs.

But they're still the Detroit Pistons.

They're still from that state up north.

While the Chicago Bulls are likely the inter-divisional "rivalry" that most fans point to as the one that stands out over the years, for me, it's always been the Pistons. While many point to 'The Shot,' I point to 'The Elbow' that likely made the shot possible to begin with.

Make no mistake about it, the Pistons are a team that has been in the thorn in the Cavs' sides for years. Who am I kidding. Since the Cavaliers great teams of the late 80's through the mid-90's, the Pistons have won three titles. We know the tally for the Cavs.

It's a rivalry, and while the Cavs are the better team today, the Pistons are the better team historically.

That wasn't easy to say.

Even with the rivalry, this piece was something that was on the backburner in my head. Cleveland will likely sweep Detroit, so talking about a rivalry seems almost silly. Yet, it wouldn't go away. It wouldn't leave the recesses of my brain. Clearly, there was a reason for this.

On Sunday, the city of Cleveland was left with this beautiful tweet:
No words.

Absolutely no words.

I'm sure Ms. Steinberg likely meant that in a different tone. Perhaps she just wanted to look at the historical significance of whatever it is people in Detroit deem significant. Honestly, I don't care. I don't care that 140 words aren't enough to clarify. I don't care what she meant.

It struck a nerve.

Then, like clockwork, Stan Van Gundy, who is a part of this column, opened up his big mouth, in scratchy, annoying goodness. I can't stand him, and he unleashed the "exact whys" after the Cavs took their perfectly constructed "game-plan," and rammed it down their throats with a dose of "Big 3."

But, you know, Van Gundy disagreed.

Of course, it was about the referees. There's no possible way the Cavs could have beat a perfectly played game by the Pistons, simply by being better. LeBron James gets all the breaks.

Yeah, I hate the Pistons. Let me count the ways:

1. Stan Van Gundy has become a caricature of his 2009 self.

You have to start with Van Gundy. This egomaniac takes over a team, and immediately becomes the most important part of that said team. He did it in Orlando, until he ran everyone off because they hated him. Now he's doing it in Detroit.

They don't hate him yet.

I doubt they ever will.

It's Detroit. Is there a better team for Van Gundy to coach?

While he's annoying now, it goes much, much deeper.

Admit it.

Every time you see Stan Van Gundy, or hear the name Van Gundy (including his horrifically annoying brother Jeff), the 2009 playoffs waft into your brain. You remember those playoffs right. The Cavs won a franchise-record 66-games a year, then rolled over detroit and Atlanta in matching four-game sweeps.

That was the year.

That was the title the Cavs would finally bring home to Cleveland.

Then, the Orlando "freakin'" Magic shocked the world when they knocked the LeBron James-led Cavs 4-to-2, and while some people remember Dwight Howard, and some people remember Hedo Turkoglu...

I remember Stan Van Gundy.

I remember Van Gundy's disheveled, smart-assed, loud mouth bravado, which is enough to get under any opponents' skin, let alone the fans watching at home. I remember his constant complaining to the press, always putting on the Rodney Dangerfield, "no respect" schtick, which I suppose is what snarky coaches are supposed to do.

It's no different this year with his youthful Pistons, and while I can admit that Van Gundy is a great coach with an innovated offense and tough-nosed defense, I just don't like him. I remember when the Pistons hired him, thinking, "there isn't a better franchise for that jackass." I'll get into that more in a second.

He has the look of a guy that stayed out four hours too late the night before, and while he's quirky and neat to the towns he coaches in, veteran teams ultimately get sick of him. Opposing fans get sick of him after one presser.

Of course, to prove his point, he just Van Gundied the Cavs again. He wants to get into LeBron's head.

Good job Stan, I think it worked. Good luck with that:

2. Is there a franchise with more hated players in the history of the NBA than the Pistons?

It doesn't matter if they still play there or not.

While this current crop of hoopsters is filled with annoying youngsters like Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond, they don't hold a candle to the riff-raff that have played on the Courts at Auburn Hills.

It's almost like that state up there put a notice in all the post offices of America that said: "If you suck as a person but can play basketball, join the Pistons." The Bad Boys were just that. They did it well, and while other teams have tried to take on their persona, there hasn't been a franchise that's come close to matching their utter debauchery.

Think about Isiah Thomas. Now, during his heydey as a player, he was extraordinarily popular with the fans, and his friendship with Magic Johnson was well-documented (although their title fight was awesome, but that's for another story, and another day). He was a tenacious player, whose smile, to most opposing fans was something that didn't quite fit the player. But he was good. Since Thomas has left the game as a player, his management skills have slightly tainted his basketball skills. Of course, that makes them worth mentioning here. Since his career ended, he's burned down the CBA, helped destroy the Knicks (one of many), and then there was his alleged sexual harassment of a Knicks employee. Somehow, he always ends on his feet. Rumors abound that he's knocking on the door of the NBA again, we shall see. Now, he's a pretty decent analyst for NBA TV. He's still a jerk.

Then there's Rick Mahorn, or McNasty, as many called him. I'm not sure many remember this, but the Cavs were the favorites to win the East during the 1989 season. They were five games up in the standings, had a stacked team, and looked to be the best in a pretty talented Eastern Conference. Then came a Rick Mahorn elbow to Mark Price almost took off his head. Mahorn ended up with a $5,000 fine, Price ended up with a concussion, and the Cavs struggled down the stretch, ultimately losing in to 'The Shot,' after they lost the #1 seed. I blame Mahorn. The Cavs shoulda been nowhere near Jordan in the first round that year.

Of course, his tag team partner was Bill Laimbeer, and if there was a bigger piece of trash in the history of the game, I'd be shocked. If you've ever met or talked to Brad Daugherty, it's pretty clear he's one of the calmest people you've ever seen, or met. Laimbeer could coax him into a fury, and Daugherty threw a punch at him in that 1989 season. The fact that he was a former Cavalier just makes him worse. He's done more bad on the court than perhaps anyone, and the fact that he looks like some pencil pusher in the basement of a paper company says it all.

What about Rasheed Wallace, who wasn't anywhere near the 'Bad Boy' era, but shoulda been. He clocked Zydrunas Ilgauskas in the head back in 2006, busting it wide open. Wallace got a $5,000 fine, but it wasn't anything new for that idiot. He was nationally known as a firebrand, had more technical fouls than most teams, and was just a moron. If there's ever been a player that reminds me of Bill Laimbeer, it's Wallace.

This wouldn't be an article without Dennis Rodman. I don't know which version was worse, the Pistons version, or the Bulls version, but they bot sucked. His soul purpose against the Cavs was to get in the grill of the calm Larry Nance and throw him off his game, which he did really well. But c'mon, Rodman is Rodman. While Nance shoulda just figured him out, it just fits the tone of the franchise. With Mahorn, Laimbeer and Rodman, there's no doubt they had the dirtiest front line in the history of the game. They were good players as well, but the mystique and actual dirty play only enhanced their talent.

I could mention more, like Adrian Dantley, Josh Smith, Joe Dumars (I liked him, but his absolute tenacious play during the Bad Boy era was enough to drive anyone mad), Tayshaun Prince and Chauncey Billups. I could likely fine-tooth comb this, and find others that were hard to deal with, but you get the point. The Pistons suck, and so do their players.

Often, there are teams and players in which you say, "You'd love them if they played for your team."

Nobody says that about the Pistons...ever.

3. &ichigan

Look, it's that state up north.

I shouldn't have to give measurables here, especially if you're from Ohio. Some may read this and say, "Jim, it's not Ohio State vs. &ichigan, it's the Pistons and the Cavaliers."

Bah.

Yes it is. It's Ohio's basketball team against Michigan's basketball team. It's the honorable state, vs. that state up north. It's the state that develops the greatest coaches of all time, vs. the state that has to borrow Ohio's coaches to get THEIR best coaches of all time.

Ohio vs. @ichigan. Cleveland vs. Detroit. It's one and the same.

Some will mention The Toledo War, in which Ohio claimed Toledo, instead of %ichigan.

Some will mention a specific game, or a specific player, or a specific coach.

But most born and bred Ohio fans, and most born and bred (if they are actually born and not hatched) #ichganians (or whatever they're called) just hate the other. It's like oil and water, or teeter and totter. The Detroit Pistons fit that state, and the Cleveland Cavaliers fit Ohio.

Hell, Dan Gilbert basically owns Detroit. How's that for ironic (I actually heard this fun rant by a drunk Ohioan at a bar, that is convinced Dan Gilbert does everything he can NOT to win a title, but I digress). Gilbert never fails to hammer on the Pistons organization:

"First of all, Detroit doesn't have an NBA team, because they're somewhere 30, 40 miles north of here. So they're not in the city, they're in Auburn Hills, right? Of the 29 arenas in the NBA, the Palace is the only one not in an urban core. The only one, and it's not good business...an arena in the middle of a field is not an ideal thing."

He's dead on.

So, the Pistons are from up there, and so is Bill Laimbeer, the former Cleveland Cavaliers' C/F who ended up as the captain of the Bad Boys, and was just the worst. So are the Pistons, then. now. forever.

(to all of my @ichigan friends, and friends that are fans of !ichigan, it is what it is. I still love you, just not your state, whatever it's called)

----

In the end, I'd love to weave to you a tale of two states, and two cities that are just too similar, that are just too sibling-like, that are just too much that are the same, but still find common ground when the dust settles. Honestly, there's probably some truth to that, when you get right down to it.

But in the end, detroit and [ichigan are like siblings that have been given up for adoption long before you knew they existed. They may look familiar. They may sound familiar. They may act familiar. But it just doesn't matter. They aren't siblings, and never will be.

It's not just a rivalry, it's just plain hate.

Cavs in four, and did I mention that Stan Van Gundy is their coach?

Yeah, you knew that already, didn't you. He wouldn't let you forget.
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