If you weren’t paying extra close attention, you probably missed the fact that the Detroit Pistons played the New York Knicks late Thursday afternoon of all times in London, England of all places. What a revelation!
Again, we’ll forgive you if you were being oblivious. The Pistons aren’t must-see television right now in the Motor City, considering their below average record, ambivalence to change and continued lack of exciting talent.
As for the actual game, it was already over before it began, playing out with a familiar 2009-2012 script. The Pistons found themselves behind by double digits early, fought back a bit, but still ended up losing by double digits, unable to make enough plays to make a run or complete a comeback. It was business as usual with the fancy O2 Arena acting as temporary window dressing.
Considering their troubles, I’m curious, who in the NBA league office thought it would be a good idea to send the Pistons and Knicks to London for a showcase game in January? Was this actually an elaborate plan to get rid of both teams? Did David Stern secretly hope someone, be it the annoying Knicks or incompetent Pistons, would miss the tarmac and be left behind? As far as international marketing goes, these teams are no longer the who’s who of the NBA; they’re the who was, making the pairing especially confusing.
So those basketball lovers, be them few or far between in jolly old England, got to enjoy Detroit’s finest. Tayshaun Prince forever looked his age, Rodney Stuckey continued to be a non-factor and Will Bynum (who?) acted as Detroit’s leading scorer with 22 points. Brandon Knight, the Pistons’ lone hope for a budding star, contributed only one more point than I did to the cause. Greg Monroe was good for his usual double-double, but in the midst of an ugly 15 point blowout, as usual, who really cared?
Oh, these Pistons. It seems like they may never be able to meaningfully improve. With a 14-25 record, just bad enough to be near the low rent district of the Eastern Conference yet not good enough to be in playoff contention, yet not bad enough to have a decent lottery pick, they’re heading for a similar fate as the last four years. They’re destined to always lose more than they win, but taste victory just enough to keep things respectable looking for the men in the fancy suits, preventing a much needed shakeup from ever occurring.
This London trip, if nothing else, only proved how far the Pistons still have to go to get back to their own version of respectability. The Knicks, oddly enough, provided an interesting blueprint for how to get back to modest success in the NBA. Acquire two moderate superstar like Carmello Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, sprinkle in a few marginal role players like Tyson Chandler and Steve Novak and throw in a few over the hill yet still competent veterans like Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace and suddenly, you can be a force again. If the woeful Knicks can manage to do it, apparently, any franchise could.
That is of course, provided they’re actually paying attention. The first step for the Pistons will be finally admitting they might have a problem. Getting embarrassed on your highly anticipated trip to the other side of the Atlantic as fans barely take notice should be an excellent starting point towards that.
Yet, let’s not let a dodgy front office or the bloody-tired notion that returning a winning basketball team to Detroit might be important distract us. As Englanders would say, that’s apparently bollocks to those in charge, especially when Busta Rhymes is set to visit the Palace for a halftime show in just four days.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax