Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Why I Cheer For the Pistons (and why you should too)

A most unlikely thing has happened this playoffs: the eastern conference has been more exciting than the west. With all the hoopla of a regular season that featured scintillating games and fierce playoff races, the western playoffs has been a snoozer. Aside from a brilliant Suns/Spurs first rounder and a competitive Jazz/Lakers series, the western conference matchups have been an all-out lamefest. Even the Spurs/Hornets seven game battle featured 6 homecourt blowouts, followed by a gutsy Spurs win. Bo-ring.

And now, with the current Lakers/Spurs battle to determine which team contains the most NBA-holes, the East again delivers with a great matchup: Detroit/Boston. And I'm here today to tell you who to root for: the Detroit Pistons.

Just like Obi Wan Kenobi, the Pistons are the Jazz' only hope. Each of the teams left in the playoffs, minus one, have at least one player that is a lock to be included in any discussion of the NBA's greatest 100 players of all time: the Spurs have Duncan, the Lakers have Kobe, and the Celtics have Garnett (and Pierce?). The Pistons don't have such a player. The best player on their team is quite debatable (Billups, Rip, Rasheed). Similarly, the Jazz don't have that once-in-a-lifetime player. Deron might get there one day, but he's not going to go on the road and rip someone's heart out - yet.

The Pistons are just a ragtag bunch of castoffs that happen to fit together perfectly. Chauncey was a bust until he landed with the Pistons, Rasheed was given away by Portland and Atlanta because he was a head-case, Rip was traded for Stackhouse and Brian Cardinal, and Tayshaun was drafted with the 22nd pick in the draft. The Jazz (minus Deron) are a similar bunch: Kirilenko was drafted late, the Pistons let Okur walk, and Boozer was considered too small to draft in the first round. Like the Pistons, there is a real sense of purpose with the Jazz personnel - even if that purpose doesn't include defense.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say, is that we, as Jazz fans, have to cheer against the superstar model of NBA team building. We don't have a superstar, and we're unlikely to have one any time soon. We need to believe that a team can be greater than the sum of its parts, that the individuals can be subsumed in something greater than themselves. That, to me, is partly what being a Jazz fan is all about - believing that the right combination of smarts and effort can overcome a lack of god-given talent. That's why I'm rooting for a Pistons championship.

1 comment:

Ryan said...

I couldn't agree more with the Crotty Kid. I have been watching and cheering for the Pistons for the last four years. They are a team that has smartly traded for players whose talents are maximized by their system and style and they have found success by keeping their core players together and letting them develop as a unit. I too think the Jazz must become this type of team to realitically compete for a title.
The problem is that the Pistons have built their success on balance and defense and while the Jazz have solid balance, we will never be a good defensive team with Boozer and Okur at the 4 and 5.