Maurice Cheeks was introduced Thursday morning as the 33rd head coach in Detroit Pistons’ franchise history. After burning through four of those coaches quite quickly since 2008, one would figure there would be some trepidation within the next man taking the job. In Cheeks’ case, that simply wasn’t so.
Finding a fit working with a former player from his era in Joe Dumars, Cheeks was motivated to take the job mostly by Detroit’s history and talented young core. Looking forward to a new challenge of molding players, Cheeks referenced commitment and unselfishness multiple times as he spoke, two words that have gone hand in hand with Detroit basketball forever.
Here’s all the quotes of note from Cheeks’ introduction to the Detroit media, from both the new head coach himself and the team’s general manager. Not included? A discussion on any potential roster decisions, which was said to be for another day in the future.
Dumars On His Satisfaction With The Conclusion Of The Process To Find Lawrence Frank’s Successor: “Very, very pleased. It was a very long process, and the reason was, we tried to commit to getting this right. It took some time, but we feel like we got the right guy for what we’re trying to do.”
Cheeks On His Overall Hopes For Leading The Pistons: “I want to give back to the traiditon those guys (the Bad Boys) started when they were playing. It’s a great organization.”
Q and A:
After Being A Head Coach, How Did Your Time As An Assistant In Oklahoma City Help? Will You Instill Lessons From There In Detroit? Cheeks: “The time in Oklahoma was extremely important for myself, working under a great coach like Scott Brooks. I learned to do things a little bit better under him. Some of my own thoughts and some thoughts from there will certainly help here.”
Your First Two Head Coaching Experiences Ended Unceremoniously. Was That Negative Or Positive For You? Cheeks: “Everything you go to do is a learning experience. I’m here to make my own way, put my own stamp on this team and make it the way I want it to be. The way you win in this league is by being unselfish and comiitted.”
Were There Times You Wondered If You’d Ever Get A Third Chance? Cheeks: “If that opportunity never came, working in a place like Oklahoma City as an assistant would have been alright. This team has a lot of young talent. You’ve got players that just have to be honed. We have to put our stamp on them. That’s the thing I look forward to, putting a stamp on this team and teaching them discipline. It’s not easy, but it comes with committment. As the team and season goes along, you’ll see that”
On Skepticism Regarding This Organization’s Direction, Even In The Wake Of A New Hire. Is It Fair? Dumars: “I think people are always skepitcal until you prove yourself. I’m not here to try to prove to people in this press conference that everything is perfect.”
Did You Worry About All The Failures Of Past Coaches When Deciding To Take This Job? Cheeks: “If we thought like that, none of us would be coaching. You have to think about the positive parts of coaching. For me, the positive part is coaching young players and trying to change their mindset. There’s no way, no how, you can go in worrying about a negative mindset, as you described. You have to be positive. There’s good young players. If we stay committed to what we want to do, we can be successful.”
Does Mo Have The Magnetism With Players, And Is That Needed Most Now In The NBA? Dumars: “You do have to have that. Mo has proven that as a coach, and as an assistant in Oklahoma City. I think that’s only part of it, though. You stand there in front of players in 2013 and they have to beleive in both you and your plan.”
On Phil Jackson and Tom Gores’ Role In Search. Was There Complete Agreement With This Hire? Dumars: “This is 100 percent consensus, no doubt. Phil came on for a couple of days, then we talked on the phone. He was behind it. Tom Gores and Mo actually spent a day and night together. It was a 100 percent consensus. Everyone was on the same page, and there was no dissention from anyone.”
Did You Talk To Players About Hiring Maurice? What About (His Former Player) Rasheed Wallace? Dumars: “We talked to some players and we talked to Rasheed. He was colorful (laughter). They all had the same message, that he was great to play for. They have a tremendous amount of respect for Mo. You could see pretty quickly in a room that he commands respect.”
Specifically, What Did Phil Jackson Add To This Search? Dumars: “The thing him and I talked about most was coaching in general. His perspective on coaching and what he thinks coaches should be like. We talked about some playoff series the Pistons and Chicago Bulls had as well, and those were long chats.”
What Was Learned From This Year’s Elongated Losing Streak In March? Dumars: “When you’re losing, you’re losing and nobody likes it. Going through losing streaks, whoever you are, you’ll deal with it and you’ll get through with it.”
What Are Your Opinions On Brandon Knight And Guard Play? Cheeks: “The game is played a lot different than when I was a point guard. Brandon has some point guard and two guard skills. I think he can be a one or a two, just like (Rodney) Stuckey can. My expeirence would be molding someone to a certain position and helping them understand the position, how they help to make all the players better. Certainly, Brandon and Stuckey will hear my wrath a bit more in those areas.”
What Sold You On Coaching The Pistons? Cheeks: “For me, the tradition of this organization sold me. Joe Dumars, Isiah Thomas. The way those guys played the game. Committed and unselfish. For me, that’s how you play the game. That’s the way I played. When you have young players, you can put that in their brain. I’m not sure if they were doing it here before or not, but that’s the way you win games.”
After Mentioning Stuckey, How Much Roster Turnover Is Needed This Offseason? Dumars: “That’s for a different time and a different press conference.”
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax