Friday, June 24, 2005

The last one that got away

As a Pistons fan, you have to be disappointed with the result of last night's Game 7. But how could you possibly be disappointed in the effort? The Pistons fought to the very end, and made San Antonio earn their third NBA championship. And as I've said in previous entries, that's what Pistons fans wanted out of their team. Compete. Fight to defend their championship. Of course, we wanted a second straight NBA title. We wanted them to show all the skeptics that last year's team was not a fluke champion. But if they had to lose, at least they went down swinging. And I think a lot of pride can be taken from that.

Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press

And if the Pistons had to lose, at least it was to a team like the San Antonio Spurs. As I watched them celebrate their win last night, I just couldn't work up any hatred for those guys. I tried to make fun of Manu Ginobili during the series despite my admiration for his play, but it was difficult not to feel good for him, looking at the happiness and excitement he felt for this championship. Ginobili squeezed out every drop of effort he had to help his team win, and despite the fact it was against my team, I enjoyed watching him. He's a hell of a player. I understand not giving him the Finals Most Valuable Player award because he had some bad games in Detroit. But I think he's ultimately the reason the Spurs beat the Pistons.

Yes, Tim Duncan won the MVP, and you can't knock his record. Three MVP awards and three NBA championships is truly an impressive resume. And with 25 points and 11 rebounds, he certainly had a good game last night. But - and this is probably a bit of sore loser bubbling to the surface - he owes his teammates (Ginobili and Bruce Bowen, especially) a slice of that trophy.

It's been a long, tough season for the Pistons, and they literally took it as far as it could go. But after getting some much-needed rest, Joe Dumars needs to look at this team and make some difficult decisions. Is Rasheed Wallace becoming more of a headache than he's worth? Or, despite his inconsistencies, is he too much of a key piece to discard? But that might be too big a change to consider, and this team probably doesn't need that. After all, they were minutes away from a second straight NBA title. But bringing in a lethal long-range shooter who can come in off the bench and knock in some three-pointers should be a priority. Scoring points is a problem that Detroit just couldn't overcome at the end.

And of course, the question of whether or not Larry Brown will coach this team next season is something that needs to be addressed - and fast. Health issues aside, Brown's high-maintenance personality might have worn down too many nerves. On the other hand, can another coach come in and maintain credibility with a bunch of veteran players who already know what it takes to win? That'll be an interesting story to follow.

But for now, it's time to throw the basketballs back in the garage until, oh, October. I sense that some of you don't always enjoy these sports blogs, but hey, that's part of the mix that I try to create here every day. And the Detroit Pistons have been a love of mine since I was a teenager. So when they're doing well - and even when they're playing badly - I'll be writing about them. Part of the reason I created this blog was to give myself an outlet for Detroit sports while living in Iowa. You can't cook fried rice without oil, and I can't write a blog without discussing sports. I appreciate you sticking with me and reading, even if the topics aren't always interesting to you. Thanks for that.