Much like the lead up to the Lions’ 16th loss this season, the downward spiral of the Pistons toward a long offseason has also come with a sense of inevitability. While at this very moment, the Pistons are on the plus side of seeing home games beyond the presently scheduled 41, Detroit looks to be a team searching for the soul that brought back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals in the last five years. Instead of writing the “we should have traded for Shaq” posting, I’ll instead remind us of a time when things were much worse – the 2000-1 Detroit Pistons team which went 32-50 and missed the playoffs.
George Irvine led a hodgepodge team of castaways and college stars through an 82-game schedule that never seemed to end. Throughout the season, 21 different players wore the teal horse, a forgotten image that connects the Grant Hill era with the current one. This “forgotten era” also came with salaries that were considerably lower than those players of today. In fact, Jerry Stackhouse and his $5 million-plus salary would not have even brought a peep from that angry UConn journalist.
While this season has been left behind in the memory banks of the casual basketball fan, the first full season of the new millennium brought us players like Corliss Williamson and Ben Wallace who would end up being major championship pieces. Their blue collar efforts drew great crowds to the Palace, and today, keep reminding us that our players used to work harder for victories. Even though this may be the last team previously not to see time in the postseason, they can teach the current Pistons squad many current lessons.